Even I have trouble believing in homeopathy SIG
Homeopathic beer: a simple test of homeopathy’s absurd claims.
Homeopathy is a very popular “alternative” to conventional medicine. Unfortunately, not only is there no evidence that it works, but it flies in the face of basic science and common sense. It is based on three central tenants:
- Like cures like
- Diluting something makes it stronger
- Water has memory
If any one of these assumptions is incorrect then homeopathy cannot work. The first premise is downright absurd and has no scientific basis, so I’m not going to deal with it here. Rather, I am going to explain a simple and safe way that you can personally test the last two premises of homeopathy so that you can prove to yourself that it is nothing but a scam.
Homeopathic treatments are made using serial dilutions. Usually, this is done in either steps of 1 in 10 or 1 in 100 (i.e., at each step you dilute 1 part active ingredient in 10 or 100 parts inactive ingredient, usually water). For example, you might take 1 milliliter (ml) of the active ingredient and add it with 10 ml of water. Then, you mix that solution, remove 1 ml of it, and mix that 1 ml with another 10 ml of water. You repeat this procedure over and over again. Common sense tells us that things become weaker as they become more diluted (this is why you have to dilute many cleaning products to avoid damaging your clothes, furniture, etc.), but homeopaths disagree. They argue that the “essential essence” of the active ingredient (whatever that means) becomes increasingly strong with each dilution. Therefore, their most “powerful” treatments are the ones that are extremely diluted. In fact, they are so diluted that there is no active ingredient left at all, which brings up the last premise: water has memory. In between each dilution you have to “success” the fluid. Homeopaths don’t all seem to agree about how to do this, but basically, you shake the vial a certain way or tap it against an elastic surface and somehow this is suppose to make the healing essence of the active ingredient magically leave the ingredient and get trapped (memorized) by the water.
If all of that sounded utterly ridiculous, good, it should have, but in case you’re not convinced here is a simple way that you can prove to yourself that this doesn’t work. Simply make some homeopathic beer. First, take one cup of beer and mix it with 10 cups of water. Pick and use your favorite method of successing the fluid, then pour one cup of that mixture into 10 cups of water and success it again. Dilute and success it a total of four times (note: homeopathic “remedies” typically involve at least 30 dilutions, so if you want to be really realistic, keep diluting it, but four dilutions is more than enough to prove my point). At this point, science tells that you now have a 1 in 10,000 dilution. In other words, you would need to drink 10,000 cups of your homeopathic beer in order to get the same amount of alcohol as 1 cup of regular beer! In contrast, homeopathy tells us that each dilution has made the beer more potent. So one cup of homeopathic beer should have a far greater impact on you than one cup of regular beer, and you should get drunk extremely quickly on the homeopathic beer.
At this point, we have two competing hypotheses with competing predictions. Now, test the hypotheses by seeing which prediction comes true. Go get a group of your friends together and start drinking the homeopathic beer. If homeopathy has any truth to it at all, you should get drunk very easily, but if science is right, then you’re essentially just drinking water and you simply are not going to get drunk off the homeopathic beer.
This simple and safe demonstration clearly illustrates the absurdity of homeopathy. Diluting something does not make it stronger and water cannot remember the “essential essence” of anything. Therefore, homeopathy cannot possibly work.
Note: for this to be a truly scientifically valid experiment, you would need a negative control group (just water) and a positive control group (normal beer) as well as a complete randomization of study subjects, blinding procedures, and carefully controlled rates of intake, but in this case, homeopathy makes such a clear and outlandish prediction that you can be very confident in the result that it doesn’t work without setting up a rigorous experiment. It would however be best not to tell your friends that the fluid they are drinking contains some alcohol as people can trick themselves into thinking that they are drunk while drinking non-alcoholic beverages.
Disclaimer: unless you drink an absurd amount of water, there is now way that you can injure yourself with this experiment, but we live in an insane and sue-happy world. So I am not responsible if you somehow manage to contrive a way to injure yourself while doing this test.
“It is based on three central tenants:”
Who are they, then, and what’s the rent like?
Witchcraft and magic potions with a modern twist. Nothing more. You’d be better off dancing skyclad around an oak tree in the moonlight at midnight to cure your ills. At least then you’re getting some fresh air and exercise. Just be careful not to step on the fairies……
But you missed the point. Homeopathy would concentrate the true power of the beer. Important word, that true. The alcohol is hardly the true power of beer. You can get alcohol in all sorts of drinks. A true power of beer is it encourages sociability. And you would indeed have a group of your friends round drinking it. But the true telling point is this: A known quality of beer is overindulgence can lead to argumentative behaviour & possibly violence. And if you’ve enticed a group of friends round for a beer & given them homeopathic beer, how much homeopathic beer do you reckon they will have consumed before there are arguments & possible violence?
I rest my case.
Let’s use homeopathic finance to finance homeopathy – here is how it would work:
1. Create a limited shares company with 100 shares and a total equity of 1p.
2. Create a second limited shares company with 100 shares and transfer the ownership of one share of company 1 to the second company.
3. Repeat 200 times.
4. Use one share certificate of the final company (plus one sugar pill) to finance homeopathy in the NHS.
5. It works using a quantum phenomenon called “share memory” – each limited company maintains a quantum memory of the finances of the previous one. It’s a quantummy thingie that works is a quantummy way – so only advanced economists understand it – you’ll just have to trust me on this one.