Mod+ 271. DR. LARRY MALERBA, HOW MATERIALISM FAILS MEDICINE

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Apr 14, 2015.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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  2. I agree that there should be more research into non-mainstream medicine. But each researcher should study what he thinks is the right thing to study. It doesn't make sense to take a materialist scientist and tell him to change his philosophy, you have to find other scientists who are not materialists. So, the real issue is how do you decide which research proposals to fund? My feeling is that the problem with the paradigm is not how it influences researchers but how it influences funding.

    In the US we have a small amount of government funding of non-mainstream medical research:
    https://nccih.nih.gov/about/ataglance
    But science has many problems with producing replicable research because of the way research is funded and scientists are paid and that problem needs to be addressed because if we fund more research into alternative medicine that research would be corrupted by the same forces that are corrupting mainstream research.

    Rupert Sheldrake:
    Overall, I would say that due to the way science is funded, public money being is misspent on shoddy unreplicable research and because of the materialist paradigm, important areas for research are being ignored.

    And another important question is: is medical research providing a higher quality of life, and less suffering, particularly for those who are near the end of their life. Philosophy, particularly beliefs about the afterlife can have a huge impact on how we face death and how much medical intervention is deemed appropriate.

    http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2014/...s-aggressive-end-of-life-care-for-themselves/
    "...doctors don’t want to experience the kind of suffering that they see their patients go through"
     
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  3. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the interview:

    Quantum theory has a shut-up-and-calculate approach that, for sure, facilitates the production of useful devices like GPS, and there's an analogue in conventional medicine, where there's no denying the advances that have been made.

    However, in both instances, we have nagging philosophical questions about what it means to be human, and how consciousness comes into play. We have many questions, but few answers.

    Is conventional medicine hamstrung by materialistic science, or does "shut up and calculate" work just fine without worrying about philosophical questions?
     
  4. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Is conventional medicine hamstrung by materialistic science, or does "shut up and calculate" work just fine without worrying about philosophical questions?

    That estimable commenter, William M. Briggs, has a recent article entitled P-Value Hacking Is Finally Being Noticed, which brings attention to the perils of using statistics in science. People love using wee P-values because they somehow imagine that that proves something, but:

    The reliability and reproducibility of science are under scrutiny. However, a major cause of this lack of repeatability is not being considered: the wide sample-to-sample variability in the P value…

    [Jumping down quite a bit here.]

    Many scientists who are not statisticians do not realize that the power of a test is equally relevant when considering statistically significant results, that is, when the null hypothesis appears to be untenable. This is because the statistical power of the test dramatically affects our capacity to interpret the P value and thus the test result. It may surprise many scientists to discover that interpreting a study result from its P value alone is spurious in all but the most highly powered designs. The reason for this is that unless statistical power is very high, the P value exhibits wide sample-to-sample variability and thus does not reliably indicate the strength of evidence against the null hypothesis.
    The point is that maybe the decline effect is in part down to the delay in the results of statistics coming in. As more and more studies accumulate, the statistical power increases, and we may see that initially favourable results were just flukes.

    Of course, we can't thereby rule out the possibility that initially, the hopes and aspirations of researchers skewed results in a direction favourable to their hypotheses, quite apart from any cherry-picking of data, conscious or unconscious, that might have been going on. If mind can affect experimental data, there's no reason to suppose that people who don't believe that can happen are any the less effective in making it happen.

    As time goes on, novelty wears off (and there isn't as much investment in outcomes), so not only does statistical power (in terms of meta-analyses of a number of studies) increase, but also, interest decreases. Hence we might have reversion to the mean and the loss of an effect that at first seemed remarkable.

    I'm trying to be charitable here: trying to imply that maybe medical researchers aren't faking data all over the place, or cherry-picking. Maybe in some cases, their data is genuine, but reality is such that in the beginning, there's a tendency for results to respond to their human desires. It could be almost as if there's a fluidity in reality: as if reality is assessing on the fly whether or not certain data is commensurate with its nature. Almost as if reality is assessing the worth of human hypotheses, or deciding whether or not to incorporate them into its being. Almost as if reality is being constructed or is evolving as a response to human consciousness.

    Either that, or it's just a case of reality being such that initial results can be influenced by human consciousness, but in the long run, statistical probabilities revert to the mean; in which case, reality is hard and fast but allows of a degree of initial influence.

    That's within the sphere of the scientific method, of course, which possibly covers only certain aspects of reality. When it comes to other schemata, such as homeopathy, they might tap into reality whilst explanations, such as they are, are merely frameworks for understanding.
     
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  5. Philemon

    Philemon Member

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  6. Alex

    Alex New

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    -- The point is that maybe the decline effect is in part down to the delay in the results of statistics coming in --
    wow... nice one!
     
  7. Alex

    Alex New

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  8. Hurmanetar

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    Thanks for the interview. I haven't really considered homeopathy recently, so this gives me something else to look into. I think the last time I heard something about it (years ago), I also had an initial knee-jerk reaction that it must be a scam. What better way to scam people than to cut back on your material costs by reducing the dosages and rely on the placebo effect to generate some perception of effectiveness? But after all the research out there and much of it presented in past Skeptiko shows, I have come to think about the universe in a much different way. It seems to be composed of symbolic relationships rather than matter. Perhaps on some level the symbol of a medicine is more powerful than the actual matter that composes the symbol? Who knows. If the mind alone can heal the body through the placebo effect or through other forms of energy healing, then it certainly seems probable that homeopathy could be a valid form of mental/energy healing.
     
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  9. Alex

    Alex New

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    yeah, I was impressed by Malerba, but still a skeptical of the "as we dilute it gets more powerful" stuff that homeopathy has associated itself with. it's like they're trying to play conventional medicine game from the other side.
     
  10. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/luc-montagnier-homeopathy-taken-seriously_b_814619.html

    Dr. Luc Montagnier, the French virologist who won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the AIDS virus, has surprised the scientific community with his strong support for homeopathic medicine.

    In a remarkable interview published in Science magazine of December 24, 2010, (1) Professor Luc Montagnier, has expressed support for the often maligned and misunderstood medical specialty of homeopathic medicine. Although homeopathy has persisted for 200+ years throughout the world and has been the leading alternative treatment method used by physicians in Europe, (2) most conventional physicians and scientists have expressed skepticism about its efficacy due to the extremely small doses of medicines used.

    Most clinical research conducted on homeopathic medicines that has been published in peer-review journals have shown positive clinical results,(3, 4) especially in the treatment of respiratory allergies (5, 6), influenza, (7) fibromyalgia, (8, 9) rheumatoid arthritis, (10) childhood diarrhea, (11) post-surgical abdominal surgery recovery, (12) attention deficit disorder, (13) and reduction in the side effects of conventional cancer treatments. (14) In addition to clinical trials, several hundred basic science studies have confirmed the biological activity of homeopathic medicines. One type of basic science trials, called in vitro studies, found 67 experiments (1/3 of them replications) and nearly 3/4 of all replications were positive. (15, 16)

    In addition to the wide variety of basic science evidence and clinical research, further evidence for homeopathy resides in the fact that they gained widespread popularity in the U.S. and Europe during the 19th century due to the impressive results people experienced in the treatment of epidemics that raged during that time, including cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, scarlet fever, and influenza.

    Montagnier, who is also founder and president of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, asserted, "I can't say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions (used in homeopathy) are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules."

    Here, Montagnier is making reference to his experimental research that confirms one of the controversial features of homeopathic medicine that uses doses of substances that undergo sequential dilution with vigorous shaking in-between each dilution. Although it is common for modern-day scientists to assume that none of the original molecules remain in solution, Montagnier's research (and other of many of his colleagues) has verified that electromagnetic signals of the original medicine remains in the water and has dramatic biological effects.

    Montagnier has just taken a new position at Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China (this university is often referred to as "China's MIT"), where he will work in a new institute bearing his name. This work focuses on a new scientific movement at the crossroads of physics, biology, and medicine: the phenomenon of electromagnetic waves produced by DNA in water. He and his team will study both the theoretical basis and the possible applications in medicine.

    Montagnier's new research is investigating the electromagnetic waves that he says emanate from the highly diluted DNA of various pathogens. Montagnier asserts, "What we have found is that DNA produces structural changes in water, which persist at very high dilutions, and which lead to resonant electromagnetic signals that we can measure. Not all DNA produces signals that we can detect with our device. The high-intensity signals come from bacterial and viral DNA."

    Montagnier affirms that these new observations will lead to novel treatments for many common chronic diseases, including but not limited to autism, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.

    Montagnier first wrote about his findings in 2009, (17) and then, in mid-2010, he spoke at a prestigious meeting of fellow Nobelists where he expressed interest in homeopathy and the implications of this system of medicine. (18)

    French retirement laws do not allow Montagnier, who is 78 years of age, to work at a public institute, thereby limiting access to research funding. Montagnier acknowledges that getting research funds from Big Pharma and certain other conventional research funding agencies is unlikely due to the atmosphere of antagonism to homeopathy and natural treatment options.

    Support from Another Nobel Prize winner

    Montagnier's new research evokes memories one of the most sensational stories in French science, often referred to as the 'Benveniste affair.' A highly respected immunologist Dr. Jacques Benveniste., who died in 2004, conducted a study which was replicated in three other university laboratories and that was published in Nature (19). Benveniste and other researchers used extremely diluted doses of substances that created an effect on a type of white blood cell called basophils.

    Although Benveniste's work was supposedly debunked, (20) Montagnier considers Benveniste a "modern Galileo" who was far ahead of his day and time and who was attacked for investigating a medical and scientific subject that orthodoxy had mistakenly overlooked and even demonized.

    In addition to Benveniste and Montagnier is the weighty opinion of Brian Josephson, Ph.D., who, like Montagnier, is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist.

    Responding to an article on homeopathy in New Scientist, Josephson wrote:

    Regarding your comments on claims made for homeopathy: criticisms centered around the vanishingly small number of solute molecules present in a solution after it has been repeatedly diluted are beside the point, since advocates of homeopathic remedies attribute their effects not to molecules present in the water, but to modifications of the water's structure.

    Simple-minded analysis may suggest that water, being a fluid, cannot have a structure of the kind that such a picture would demand. But cases such as that of liquid crystals, which while flowing like an ordinary fluid can maintain an ordered structure over macroscopic distances, show the limitations of such ways of thinking. There have not, to the best of my knowledge, been any refutations of homeopathy that remain valid after this particular point is taken into account.

    A related topic is the phenomenon, claimed by Jacques Benveniste's colleague Yolène Thomas and by others to be well established experimentally, known as "memory of water." If valid, this would be of greater significance than homeopathy itself, and it attests to the limited vision of the modern scientific community that, far from hastening to test such claims, the only response has been to dismiss them out of hand. (21)

    Following his comments Josephson, who is an emeritus professor of Cambridge University in England, was asked by New Scientist editors how he became an advocate of unconventional ideas. He responded:

    I went to a conference where the French immunologist Jacques Benveniste was talking for the first time about his discovery that water has a 'memory' of compounds that were once dissolved in it -- which might explain how homeopathy works. His findings provoked irrationally strong reactions from scientists, and I was struck by how badly he was treated. (22)

    Josephson went on to describe how many scientists today suffer from "pathological disbelief;" that is, they maintain an unscientific attitude that is embodied by the statement "even if it were true I wouldn't believe it."

    Even more recently, Josephson wryly responded to the chronic ignorance of homeopathy by its skeptics saying, "The idea that water can have a memory can be readily refuted by any one of a number of easily understood, invalid arguments."

    In the new interview in Science, Montagnier also expressed real concern about the unscientific atmosphere that presently exists on certain unconventional subjects such as homeopathy, "I am told that some people have reproduced Benveniste's results, but they are afraid to publish it because of the intellectual terror from people who don't understand it."

    Montagnier concluded the interview when asked if he is concerned that he is drifting into pseudoscience, he replied adamantly: "No, because it's not pseudoscience. It's not quackery. These are real phenomena which deserve further study."

    The Misinformation That Skeptics Spread

    It is remarkable enough that many skeptics of homeopathy actually say that there is "no research" that has shows that homeopathic medicines work. Such statements are clearly false, and yet, such assertions are common on the Internet and even in some peer-review articles. Just a little bit of searching can uncover many high quality studies that have been published in highly respected medical and scientific journals, including the Lancet, BMJ, Pediatrics, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, Chest and many others. Although some of these same journals have also published research with negative results to homeopathy, there is simply much more research that shows a positive rather than negative effect.

    Misstatements and misinformation on homeopathy are predictable because this system of medicine provides a viable and significant threat to economic interests in medicine, let alone to the very philosophy and worldview of biomedicine. It is therefore not surprising that the British Medical Association had the sheer audacity to refer to homeopathy as "witchcraft." It is quite predictable that when one goes on a witch hunt, one inevitable finds "witches," especially when there are certain benefits to demonizing a potential competitor (homeopathy plays a much larger and more competitive role in Europe than it does in the USA).

    Skeptics of homeopathy also have long asserted that homeopathic medicines have "nothing" in them because they are diluted too much. However, new research conducted at the respected Indian Institutes of Technology has confirmed the presence of "nanoparticles" of the starting materials even at extremely high dilutions. Researchers have demonstrated by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction and chemical analysis by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES), the presence of physical entities in these extreme dilutions. (24) In the light of this research, it can now be asserted that anyone who says or suggests that there is "nothing" in homeopathic medicines is either simply uninformed or is not being honest.

    Because the researchers received confirmation of the existence of nanoparticles at two different homeopathic high potencies (30C and 200C) and because they tested four different medicines (Zincum met./zinc; Aurum met. /gold; Stannum met./tin; and Cuprum met./copper), the researchers concluded that this study provides "concrete evidence."

    Although skeptics of homeopathy may assume that homeopathic doses are still too small to have any biological action, such assumptions have also been proven wrong. The multi-disciplinary field of small dose effects is called "hormesis," and approximately 1,000 studies from a wide variety of scientific specialties have confirmed significant and sometimes substantial biological effects from extremely small doses of certain substances on certain biological systems.

    A special issue of the peer-review journal, Human and Experimental Toxicology (July 2010), devoted itself to the interface between hormesis and homeopathy. (25) The articles in this issue verify the power of homeopathic doses of various substances.

    In closing, it should be noted that skepticism of any subject is important to the evolution of science and medicine. However, as noted above by Nobelist Brian Josephson, many scientists have a "pathological disbelief" in certain subjects that ultimately create an unhealthy and unscientific attitude blocks real truth and real science. Skepticism is at its best when its advocates do not try to cut off research or close down conversation of a subject but instead explore possible new (or old) ways to understand and verify strange but compelling phenomena. We all have this challenge as we explore and evaluate the biological and clinical effects of homeopathic medicines.
     
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  11. Alex

    Alex New

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    good stuff. I'm just leery of this idea that as the active ingredient in a homeopathic medicine is diluted it becomes more powerful. does anyone know if this has been tested experimentally?
     
  12. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    I am not sure if it's about making it more "powerful"... i.e. stronger. The way homeopathy is supposed to work is as a signal instead of a chemical reaction.
    That's why it's not important if you take 3 globules, 5 or 50. Timing is more important. For example in acute situations you may need to take the remedy multiple times per hour, and that's my experience with Nux Vomica, a remedy for stomach issues that helped many years ago to get rid of a recurring condition.

    Typically you will find lower dilutions for acute problems, that are used very frequently (e.g. many times a day) and higher dilutions for long standing conditions, which are taken less often, maybe once a day, sometimes even every few days.

    The infamous "homeopathic suicide" that Randi used to play on stages was really a monument to his utter ignorance of what he was talking about. He would swallow and entire bottle of a sleeping homeo remedy and then declared that if it worked he would die by the overdose. I have not enough face for my palm :)

    It's the equivalent of a someone trying to use a computer by shouting into the mouse ...

    Back to your question, I think it's been tested quite extensively. Higher potencies remedies are known to cause stronger reactions (homeopathy does cause side effects), especially when the health problem is chronic. I have only one experience that I can relate about this. A close relative did have a pretty bad reaction from his sinuses in the first week of treatment after which he had quite an effective improvement. (long time smoker with chronic sinusitis)

    cheers

    p.s. = enjoyed dr Malerba interview :)
     
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  13. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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  14. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    Kudos to Alex on this interviewee. This is the type of expanded mindset that like to read conversations with. Plus I think that at this point it's more "fruitful" than more talks with those still stuck in the former paradigm
     
  15. LoneShaman

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    My interest in shamanism has forced me to believe that a good part of illness stems from the psyche or spirit as the shaman would say. The healing abilities of some have been remarked by anthropologists, botanists and explorers since the expansion of the new world. Documented on film over and over these days and is attracting more and more people that modern medicine has failed.

    The National geographic has a series "The Witch Doctor will see you Now". Is a relatively recent account. Check it out. There is a lot of invalid bogus stuff of course. In Africa you get a cold, and some poor chicken is going to be slaughtered for it :) or taking a bath in goats blood. There are some other things that do have basis in pharmacology, but also things that have basis in psychology as well, and I have to say, spirit. They use a combination, treating the body and spirit as one.

    His visit with the Shipibo people was of interest to me. With some surprising results. Well surprising by one set of rules. But it has been documented time and time again. I believe it was the one investigation that left a big impression on the host of the show and made him a believer.
     
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  16. DocMalerba

    DocMalerba New

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    I appreciate the thoughtful discussion and I hope you don’t mind me chiming in here. I agree with everything that Michael and Bucky have said. There is an abundance of research that points to the activity of homeopathic doses above and beyond placebo. Much of that research is done on allopathic terms; in other words, it involves methods not ideal and not conducive to successful homeopathic prescribing. And yet, many such studies yield positive results. It is pure skeptic propaganda that there is no confirmative research.

    There is no active ingredient in a homeopathic medicine because it is not material medicine. Even if nanoparticles are found in the dilutions, they are not present in quantities that could act at a biochemical level. Therefore, there must be some other explanation. I explain to inquisitive patients that homeopathic medicines do not act like conventional drugs, which usually need to be repeated daily to sustain an effect. That effect is to subdue or suppress symptoms. Take away the drug and the symptoms return.

    Homeopathic remedies, conversely, operate according to a stimulus-response model. A microdose of the energy signature of a substance capable of mimicking a patients’ symptom profile is designed to provoke an energetic response from the life force (vital force, Chi, bioenergetic field, etc). An accurate prescription presumably assists the life force to throw off the energetic grip of the illness that had been holding it in place, so to speak. The correct stimulus provokes a healing response. Once a healing response is under way, there is no need to repeat doses unless it begins to fizzle out. For an average patient with a chronic illness, I give a couple doses on day one and then evaluate the response a month later. The doses are not material doses; they are small pulses of energy. The discovery of nanoparticles has been hailed by homeopaths as a means to placate the sensibilities of materialists who need something physical to believe in.

    Homeopaths and their patients wouldn’t be so concerned with providing “plausible” explanations to satisfy the rational demands of scientific logic if it weren’t for the fact that the very survival of homeopathy is dependent upon the scientific powers that be. It is the remarkable clinical results that keep homeopaths doing what they do and patients coming back for care. There is an enormous body of literature spanning the past 200 years documenting “cured cases,” which are conveniently dismissed by allopaths as “anecdotal” evidence. To me personally, those first hand experiential reports of doctors and their patients are far more convincing than highly abstract sanitized and homogenized research studies.
     
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  17. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    For me, this interview raised several different issues. For me the main one, which I'm reflecting from my own experience, is that conventional medicine aims to treat symptoms, not causes. In some cases, that is appropriate, we don't necessarily need to know what caused a broken bone in order to give suitable treatment. But in other cases, treating symptoms appears to be little more than applying a fresh coat of paint over a crumbling building: it is of only partial benefit, and sometimes no benefit at all. Certainly in my own case I've had to find my own way, often through trial and error, to find how to manage some medical conditions. It has been disappointing that when I've begun to describe the practical, physical factors which I've found to be vitally important, to have these facts dismissed as false. If a doctor doesn't listen to the patient, how are they to understand the conditions which it is their job to treat?

    That's not to say that I think everything conventional medicine does is wrong, I don't believe that's the case. But there is an outlook, both in the broad sense, as well as of individual practitioners, which takes in a limited viewpoint. And in all of this, I'm not even considering things 'esoteric' or controversial.
     
  18. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    A good starting point would be the references section of the Huffington Post article I posted above, which I omitted on account of its length.

    Homeopathy ties in with research into the structure of water. Contrary to popular understanding, water in its liquid form isn't entirely structureless. Check out this video:



    Dr. Pollack has written a book about water, The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor, available on Amazon. It's plain that water holds all sorts of surprises, including its ability to act as an energy source.

    Here's an interesting video in which Luc Montagnier discusses his work on water and homeopathy:



    It isn't so much that as the active ingredient is diluted it becomes more powerful: that's a way of thinking that is the cause of all the scepticism. To be fair, homeopathists have promulgated this in the past as part of an explanatory framework constructed in the absence of more detailed understanding.

    I'd remind you of Ptolemaic astronomy, which, being based on the idea of geocentrism, was actually incorrect. Nonetheless, the idea of epicycles did in fact explain empirical observations to some degree, and more importantly, did actually work for purposes of, say, navigation at sea. In fact, heliocentrism wasn't proved until 1838 by Bessel using the diameter of the earth's orbit as a baseline for parallax calculations on a nearby star, 61 Cygni. For quite some time after Copernicus (1473-1543), Ptolemaic theory was in fact more accurate than Copernican astronomy even though wrong: people tend to forget that.

    Now we're becoming increasingly aware that water is far more complex than we had imagined. It apparently has properties influenced by chemical compounds it has at some point dissolved: the so-called memory effect, which isn't as yet fully understood. Hence we're beginning to construct a new paradigm, a new "Copernican revolution" as it were, in relation to water. This doesn't entirely invalidate the explanatory framework used in homeopathy: it could be good enough to employ it for purposes of healing.
     
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  19. Reece

    Reece Member

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    Excellent article. Thanks!
     
  20. Alex

    Alex New

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    I did not know this... fascinating.
     

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