I got a reader who said he/she had been a skeptic of homeopathy, but was convinced by this article that it worked.
I normally don’t respond to stuff like this, but this person seemed to be on the fence, so I hoped to make a difference. My response ended up being enormous, so I thought I might post here as an article for anyone to read. Enjoy!
First, this is argument from authority. And you should consider that even if you accept Montagnier’s authority, he is not an authority on chemistry. And, even if you accepted him as an authority on chemistry, you’d have to ignore all the other Nobel laureates who think homeopathy is hogwash. Additionally, consider that many Nobel laureates have said crazy shit! Linus Pauling, a great man, spent the latter part of his life advocating vitamin c megadoses, which do nothing substantial for your health.
Second, the fact that homeopathy was popular in the 19th century proves nothing. It’s argument from popularity. Here’s a list of theories that have been popular and wrong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsolete_scientific_theory
Third, there is conspiracy theory logic in here – skeptics spread misinformation to protect the medical establishment? By the same logic, you could claim phrenology was true, and only covered up by a covetous neurology community who stand to make financial gain.
4th, homeopathy doesn’t even make logical sense. If water has a memory of past interactions, whenever you drink water from a river, you should get a dose of all sorts of memory effects. You don’t.
5th, as many have demonstrated, taking a megadose of homeopathic sleeping pills produces no effect.
6th, many of the journals cited, such as “Human and Experimental Toxicology” are extremely low ranking journals. This doesn’t prove them wrong, but the fact that they are peer reviewed doesn’t make them right. Indeed, if you believe that being reported in a journal proves something true, homeopathy is definitely wrong.
7th, this article claims that a single journal issue could “verify the power of homeopathic doses of various substances.” No medical journal of repute would ever make such a strong claim without a massive massive study. Medical science is extremely difficult – even among respected journals, many experiments are very hard to reproduce, and almost none make it past phase II.
8th, there are clearly shenanigans in presentation here. For example, consider this sentence: “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)”
Sounds pretty fancy, right? That is, until you see that (24) is cited from a journal called “Homeopathy.” If I cited a journal in this response titled “Homeopathy is bullshit” would you say that’s an unbiased source?
This is plain and simple nonsense. I don’t usually take this much time to reply to reader emails, but this stuff matters. Against homeopathy, you have a mountain of evidence saying homeopathy not only doesn’t work, but can’t work. In favor of homeopathy, you have a few odd citations in low level journals combined with argument from authority and unreasonable sentences like “further evidence for homeopathy resides in the fact that they gained widespread popularity in the U.S. and Europe during the 19th century.”
Please, please do not fall for it.