Quantum of Senseless


Returning to the MSS Blog, resident linguist Allan takes a look at Quantum Homeopathy…

Particles everywhere.  Quarks strangely up the continuum, where they can be postulated without arbitrary precision to flow among the hadronic mesons and baryons; Leptons down the scale of posited particulates, where electrons roll neutrally, defiled among the 105.7 MeV/c2 of muons and the apathetically gyrating tauons of a great (and probabilistically determined) Quanta.  Sleptons in the supersymmetric marshes, Higgsinos on the hypothetical heights.  Quarks creeping into the collider-beams; Gluons lying out on the fields, and hovering in the rigging of the august atom; Higgs bosons drooping on the W, Z bosons and the massless photons.  Higgs field like molasses in the eyes and throats of ancient university professors, wheezing lyrical over their lecterns at their wards; Protons and plumbons in the spoon and bowl of the afternoon muesli of the wrathful scientist, leucous in their locked labs;  Uncertainty principles cruelly pinching the lobes and hippocampus of their equivocating little ‘search babe in the back.  Chance people on the galleyways peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of particles, with particles all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.*

Oooh…  Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  If you’d believe anything, and I don’t,  didn’t know anything, and I don’t, then you’d swear I knew of what I was on about, and I don’t.  Still, it is rather lovely, isn’t it? Me and Dickens… aside from 150 years and light years of ability in the sphere of stylistics, we’re like this: *crosses fingers*

So what is that?  That, my great and only friends, is a cacophony of sumptuous, semiotic manifestations that garners much to appearances, and less to substance. In other words, it’s word soup.  Bullshit.  Beautiful bullshit, perhaps a load that the bull in question felt a sudden, artistic need to shape and sculpt into transcendent forms, but, still, finally, when all is silkily said and finally done, and aside from the rose delicately balanced in its crescendo, it is still a steaming pile of moderately meaningless gibberish.

Beautiful, big words alone or juxtaposed do not a great point make.

So where am I going with this?  Let’s take The Great theme of our time, The 1023 Campaign, keep the foolishness of our homeopathic foes in mind and then turn our minds back to the riffed theme at the top of the article:  Particles stuff and Quantum Mechanics stuff.  I say ‘stuff’ because I really don’t have anything but the slightest knowledge of what that lark is all about.  I’m a budding linguist, and the days when my journey through the xylem and phloem of the tree of knowledge may have led me to unfurl as a physicist in full flower have long since leaved.  Yes.  Leaved.  Enjoy.

Quantum Physics is a discipline steeped in strange, counter-intuitive hypotheses, models and theories.  Homeopathy is a pseudo-science steeped in strange, counter-factual claims, nonsense and woo.  Take one unintelligible discipline to the layman, add one irrational field of bullshittery and blend into a smooth paste of fantastic claims with accents of soaring rhetoric and serve it all up in a bed of self-reinforcing believers.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the majestic poppycock that is:

Quantum Homeopathy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_y4-z-kDqQ

You may remember this lady, Dr Charlene Werner, being ripped apart a little while ago all over the interwebs with her unorthodox take on relativity, quantum theory and spelling/pronunciation.  Yes, Stephen HawinGs and Einstein tell us that e=mc sq and all of matter is little vibrating strings that we can ignore because it all comes down to one tiny little ball, like a bowling ball, and that means that the photo receptors in our eyes are incredibly important and science should have fallen into Hahneman’s Homeopathy camp (Maybe the rates were too high, or the redcoats were a little too fond of fraternising with your wife while you were off taking care of the nippers?) 200 years ago, oh, and our ears too, they’re very important for picking up the vibrations from the strings because we’re so well designed.  Einstein proved it.

See, I’m going to credit her a little bit here, and say she’s actually read a little bit of our stricken science-meister’s books, specifically “Universe in a Nutshell”, and didn’t understand a single word, but can remember a few items of vocabulary and madlib them together into something that people who believe in fairies, trolls, ghosts, EFT or Homeopathy would nod at sagely, chew on their organic, wholemeal tofu treats, and take as a seriously scholarly interpretation of the most up-to-date discoveries in the physical sciences that fit in perfectly with homeopathy and the only reason that medicine doesn’t take it seriously is because of all those nasty Big Pharma companies that only want to poison absolutely everyone so that they can have all the money and rule the world, but then have to do all the menial chores and build everything because they don’t think everything through thoroughly and unbiasedly like us homeopaths. *breathes* Ee gads! The mad, bad, power-mad and something-ad fools!

Now, that’s the completely insane version from our cousins across the ocean, those benighted souls who must labour on without divine guidance from Her Britannic Majesty and dreary direction from Gordon Brown… but I digress.  The point to follow from here is that there’s another type of Quantum Homeopath, a more insidious sort who, if the lay-sciencey-interested person didn’t know homeopathy was total tripe, might be taken in by the somewhat artful rhetoric, the impressive list of qualifications on offer, and the lack of understanding that’s out there in the world surrounding Quantum Mechanics generally.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a very British, professorial variety of howling crankery: The one and only, the inimitable, the great and wondrous Lionel Milgrom BSc, MSc, PhD, CChem, FRSC, MARH, MRHom and his epic article…*clears throat*

Journeys in The Country of The Blind: Entanglement Theory and The Effects of Blinding on Trials of Homeopathy and Homeopathic Provings

To save you time, I’ll bring the abstract here:

“The idea of quantum entanglement is borrowed from physics and developed into an algebraic argument to explain how double-blinding randomized controlled trials could lead to failure to provide unequivocal evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy, and inability to distinguish proving and placebo groups in homeopathic pathogenic trials. By analogy with the famous double-slit experiment of quantum physics, and more modern notions of quantum information processing, these failings are understood as blinding causing information loss resulting from a kind of quantum superposition between the remedy and placebo.”

The article ‘proper’ then starts off by talking about Nelson.  No, that’s not the one from The Simpsons, philistines, but Trafalgar-Nelson, monocularly-sighted-Nelson, “I see no ships”-Nelson.  Yeah, that one.  One-eyed.  Blinding.  See where he’s going there?  Lovely rhetorical device.

See all of those lovely big words?  See how he’s lovingly managed to stitch them into something that resembles a lovely, coherent structure of lovely sentences?  He even uses, lovingly, props that look remarkably like lovely equations! Well done that lovely man.  Clearly, that PhD has left its mark… and it looks lovely.

Now, I’m not going to be debunking this chap again, that’s been done to excess hereherehere and here for starters, but the argument goes like this:  Quantum physics is really weird, and the act of looking at something in the domains where quantum phenomena are observable can completely change what is happening, therefore homeopathy must be a quantum phenomenon, because we all know it works when you don’t examine it, obviously, but as soon as you start to really look it at, it’s absolutely crystal clear that it doesn’t work.  At all.  Not even a little bit.  So there we are, homeopathy is a quantum effect and you can’t examine it at all, in any way, ever, or it won’t work, but it does, because it just does.  Don’t mind this bloke behind the curtain…

Personally, I think he just wanted to write about Young Slits, and there are different genres for that, Lionel Milgrom BSc, MSc, PhD, CChem, FRSC, MARH, MRHom, oh yes.  Very different genres.

If you want to howl with laughter, read his interview here.

“And because one is suddenly asked to review one’s life as a sequence of apparently connected events – when as far as I can tell they represent moments when I may have been more or less conscious or aware (consciousness/awareness, you understand, being something that fluctuates – lawfully – from moment to moment) – then the effort to ‘join up the dots’ into something ‘rational’ can produce a certain kind of inner vertigo like looking down the wrong end of a telescope….Well, I am digressing, and we haven’t even started yet!”

Nice use of ‘rational’ there, then “life as a sequence of apparently connected events”, and he’d already managed to squeeze in a dig at skeptics in the first sentence of that, his first answer…  it gets much better the further you go.  If you fancy a laugh over lunch, then give it a go.

Unconscious self-parody doesn’t get better than this.

The final thought on weird physics and homeopathy.  If we leap over from the world of the quantum to thinking about multiple universes, won’t there be a universe somewhere in the great inter-cosmological superpositional play where we all die on the 30th?  Possibly. Won’t there be a universe where women find me irresistible?  You’re in it, baby. *smoothes eyebrow*  Won’t there be a universe somewhere where water has a memory and homeopathy works?

Come on, now you’re just being silly.

*Please.  Don’t.  It’s rhetorical.

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  1. #1 by Sean on January 27, 2010 - 12:33

    Is this guy for real? And is he *really* a chartered chemist? And the RSC are not at all interested in the fact that this guy is promoting nonsense (homeopathy) which an a-level chemistry student with a calculator could disprove?

  2. #2 by Michael on January 27, 2010 - 18:46

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That is what I think.

    He is also using the same language as the Intelligent Design fucktards do. “Information as something which cannot be created without guidance” Stone the crows! Why don’t these guys just keep up with their medication? Having said that it keeps Marsh in a job. Sorry Marsh.

  3. #3 by Paul Newton on January 28, 2010 - 11:36

    With regard to homeopathy; you ‘people’ obviously don’t understand the fundamentals of this form of medicine; either that, or your suffering from the usual sceptic small mindedness/tiny brain syndrome. The fact that you ‘don’t get it’, is fine; it’s when you go forcing your ignorance onto others by way of the cheap and immature stunt you pulled, which astonishingly made the radio, that your knowledge failings become dangerous. I’m NOT a homeopath, but I am a user and can say first hand that it works where modern ‘medicine’ fails. As I said, you’ve a right not to believe that, for whatever reason, but by pulling such stunts as you did, you may well put people off trying homeopathy-or any other natural medicine-therefore remaining ill and being failed by what the gp’s and hospitals offer. I suggest you consider a meeting with some qualified homeopaths and debate the subject with them: a process which should indeed wipe away your ignorance and hostility. I would be glad to help organise this. I’ll await your reply. Paul Newton BA open hons.

  4. #4 by Ed B on January 28, 2010 - 19:58

    Paul, I have read a great deal on h’pathy over the last week and I think the most convincing argument against its methodology is here: http://lesmondine.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/homeopathy-theres-something-in-it/.

    Like you, I am not a scientist (my subject is language/literature), but since “lesmondine”‘s argument is aimed directly at the heart of homeopathy – dilutions – I think it is of extreme interest.

    I also think it is, to pun badly, water-tight.

    I would be very interested to know if you can counter his arguments.

    Thank you.

  5. #5 by Allan on January 28, 2010 - 20:45

    For a minute there I thought you were serious, but the slow crawl of my humour organelles has finally caught up with a further example of self-parody.

    Well played, Sir. Well played indeed.

  6. #6 by Paul Newton on January 29, 2010 - 11:24

    You read up for a whole week? Gosh, that makes you some kind of expert! What did the rest of the stuntees do to become so ‘clear’ on the topic? Certainly not the years of intense training and practice that homeopaths have to do, I’ll be bound! Anyway, your response at least leaves the door open for a balanced and slightly more knowledgeable input, and for that you’re to be commended. I’ve passed details of the site/article onto a gifted practitioner, so let’s hope truth and common sense prevail out of this maelstrom of ignorance. I’d certainly like to be present at any such rendevous!

  7. #7 by Stu on January 29, 2010 - 12:55

    I’d certainly like to present at any such rendevous too! I’ll be keeping en eye on this blog to see if it comes off.

    It’s a very good thing that dissenters are starting to appear on these comments sections – debate is to be encouraged.

    I’d like to draw Paul Newtons’ attention to the following: http://tiny.cc/hBi4w as one example of the dangers of alternative remedies which usually, at best, are placebos, and at worst can kill people.

    Paul. If you would like to swap a few emails I would be more than happy to further debate this subject with you or the ‘gifted practioner.’

  8. #8 by Stu on January 29, 2010 - 12:56

    Sorry, I meant ‘practitioner’ – I’m hurrying because I’m in work.

  9. #9 by Gittins on January 29, 2010 - 16:16

    It only takes 10 minutes of reading to know for certain that homeopathy is nothing but superstition. If anything, a week is overdoing it.

  10. #10 by Allan on January 29, 2010 - 17:54

    Intense training and practice does not a truth prescribe. If all you needed to discover the truth were a length of graft in any old field and a bit of on the job training, then true, divine physics would be admistered by priests.

    No, you need a reasonable, plausible mechanism for action. You need a wealth of evidence to prove any implausible proposition. You need a profession that trains its adherents to be lacking in absolute certainty on their own field and deferent to the wisdom of others outside of their own.

    Homeopathy is utterly devoid of reasonable evidence in its favour (in fact, the slipperier practitioners demand an entirely subjective and therefore unfalsifiable case – every treatment is entirely custom), without any plausible mechanism for action – let alone creditable mechanism – and a wealth of quacks offering ‘cures’ for every flavour of human malady, from AIDS to cancer to malaria to diabetes to facelifts to boob jobs to, well, whatever.

    Why bother researching anything anymore? Homeopathy clearly has it all covered.

    Homeopathy a filthy, laughable discipline full of practitioners who are either wilfully ignorant, deluded or lying.

    Take your pick for whichever homeopath you care to place your faith in.

  11. #11 by Ed B on January 30, 2010 - 10:11

    Paul, thank you for passing my comment on to an actual practitioner.

    I never made any claims to being an expert. I am not, I repeat, a scientist (my doctorate is in languages) and therefore expending more than a week on a scientific topic without that background training seems futile. No amount of reading substitutes for training, as you state correctly.

    I was merely referring to that fact that – as an interested, educated layman – in all of the posts, articles, encyclopedia articles and so forth that I had consulted as a result of the 10:23 event over the past week, the post by lesmondine was the best of the bunch.

    I look forward to your practitioner’s refutation of the “dilution problem”.

    My interest remains that of a layman. If the dilution problem is real, then the labelling of products by homeopaths as 10C, 30C, etc. is as much a fraud as – according to scientists – the science behind their art appears to be.

    And as a layman, I don’t like people fraudulently selling mislabelled products in full knowledge of the fact that they are doing so.

    Go to the Nelson’s store: http://www.nelsonshomeopathy.com/shop-online/Nelsons-Clikpaks_cat70.aspx.

    Look at Rhus. tox. Note that 30C costs 5.10 GBP while 6C costs 4.30 GBP.

    If lesmondine’s post is correct, then Nelson’s are:

    a) In both cases charging for a product that cannot in fact be more than about 4C
    b) In the case of 30C, charging the consumer for the same product, but which took a little longer to make

    This isn’t science, Paul – this is Trading Standards.

  12. #12 by liam farrell on January 30, 2010 - 18:28

    well done, skeptics; your demonstrations today has shown the medical profession up. It should be our place to defend the vulnerable and the gullible against the snake-oil salemen

  13. #13 by Max on February 2, 2010 - 11:48

    I find Paul’s comments rather amusing, he calls everyone ignorant yet doesn’t provide any kind of knowledgeable argument to refute the claims of “Snake oil salesman” practices, if anything homoeopathy is proof that the placebo effect is indeed real.

    Infinite dilution? lol.. This is ridiculous and this utter lunacy should not be included in medical practices, along with things like drilling holes in people’s skulls, blood letting and voodoo surgery.

    Enjoy your sugar pills Paul, if your faith in homoeopathy is what it takes to initiate a placebo response then I’m truly happy for you.

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