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Bernie Simon's Blog (46)

Dr. Melvyn Smith, RIP

There's another death in the homeopathic community, Dr. Melvyn Smith of Sugarland, Texas died of pancreatic cancer. From his obituary:



Smith, his sister said, was an avid student of mythology and metaphysics. And, well into his career as a medical doctor, he became fascinated by alternative medicine. In 1981 he was co-founder of the Texas Society of Homeopathy; 16 years later he was certified by the Council… Continue

Added by Bernie Simon on April 15, 2009 at 8:56pm — 2 Comments

Sir John Maddox RIP

Sir John Maddox, former editor of Nature, died April 12. He was editor during the "Benveniste affair." He first published Benveniste's paper on the action of infinitesmal doses on mast cells and then sent a team to Benveniste's laboratory to debunk him, publishing the account in the next issue of Nature.

Added by Bernie Simon on April 14, 2009 at 9:06pm — No Comments

Vitalism

This was posted recently on a skeptic's blog as a response to an attack on vitalism and I thought I'd share it here.



Just as we can distinguish between a computer and the program executed upon it, we can distinguish between the physical and chemical basis of life and life itself. Life acts to preserve the narrow set of conditions that make it possible. It's this activity to conserve and propagate itself which is the vital force. And just as problems with a computer usually aren't… Continue

Added by Bernie Simon on April 14, 2009 at 8:12pm — No Comments

The Principles of Homeopathy

Andre Saine gave a talk at the NCH summer school on the principles of homeopathy. It's an interesting presentation of the subject, though obviously not the last word on it. Here are my notes from his talk.



Homeopathy was defined by Hahnemann and must be practiced according to the principles he described. These are:



1. The law of similars, or similia similibus curantur. The sick are most easily, mildly, and permanently cured by the most similar medicine. For example,… Continue

Added by Bernie Simon on April 13, 2009 at 8:56pm — No Comments

Placebo Power

Too many people dismiss homeopathy as a placebo, not stopping to think what a remarkable thing a placebo is. How is it that one can cause a change in one's health simply by believing something is a cure? It's as remarkable as fixing a television set by turning it to a different channel. Our familiarity with the concept of placebo has made it invisible to us. The placebo has become the shadow of medicine, the anti-medicine, when it should point us to a new concept of medicine, one that breaks… Continue

Added by Bernie Simon on April 12, 2009 at 8:20pm — No Comments

The Placebo Paradox

The argument made against homeopathy usually goes like this:



1. There's nothing in homeopathic medicines

2. If there's nothing in them, they can't work

3. Therefore, homeopathic medicines are placebos



It's a strange argument, because placebos work, by definition, and yet there's nothing in a placebo either. So there's at least one example of a kind of medicine with nothing in it that works. So why not two or more? I'm not saying that homeopathy is not a placebo.… Continue

Added by Bernie Simon on April 11, 2009 at 8:51pm — 2 Comments

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