Talk:Homeopathy/Archive 10

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Jan 2009 -April 12th 2009

Is Paracelus a key figure in the historical development of homeopathic theory?

Text here was removed by the Constabulary on grounds that it is needlessly inflammatory. (The author may replace this template with an edited version of the original remarks.)

I would add the following points - looking at the conversation above. Gareth and Dana both explicitly acknowledge the importance and relevance of Paracelus to the 'origins of homeopathy'. There is some debate over how much H was influened by P, which Pieree-Alain early referecne alluded to - for 'political' reasons H may have wished to downplay his links to an alchemist in favour of linking to the corpus of a respected 'Ancient authority'.

As far as the article goes, we need to be accurate. All agree that the text is not accurate and attemtps to 'fudge it' are not very defensible.

Secondly, the historicla origins of Homeopathy are NOT irrelevant to an article called 'Homeopathy'. I suppose we could rename it 'Modern Homeopathy' but I think we can all see that his is a specious ruse to avoid finishing the job properly. I would counsel against that. Note too that the History of Homeopathy page is innaccurate and unhelpful. We would link to innaccurate informaton rather than correct it here?

The text I would like included is the text Dana deleted - directly running against the work of three or four others to resolve the issue.

The debate summary again

The issue, to sum up, is that Paracelsus is a key figure in the historical development of the homeopathic method. I do not insist on any particular way of stating this, eg 'is the Father of' or 'Founder of' as these terms are ambiguous. But the key idea is clear. To back up the role of Paracelus in homeopathic theory, Citizens have provided evidence from several books in the area, plus the Britannica, plus quotations from webpages by homeopaths.

I have noted on the Paracelus page (see below) the sort of claims I think are relevant to Paracelsus's role.

However, primarily Dana has prevented me and others from adding text to the page allowing Paracelsus a key role in the origins of homeopathy.

He, and some others, have suggested that I have not provided any evidence for this view, and have disregarded expert opinions from themselves. But I have provided a good deal of evidence and so have others. (I leave out of this appeal the issue of the accuracy of the claims made for Hippocrates as the key historical figure instead.)

Dana has suggested the issue can be changed into one of how much debt to Paracelus Hahnemann acknowledges, but that is not the issue here. (Pierre-Alain even provided evidence - a book source - that Hahnemann avoided acknowledging his debt for his own 'political' reasons'.) The existing academic consensus is that Paracelsus is a key figure in the history of homeopathy. That is the issue.

More details

Is Paracelus a key figure in the historical development of homeopathic theory? On the Paracelus page I have been able to record some of the evidence for this view:

"The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopaedia credits him with "the establishment of chemistry in medicine" and giving the "the most up-to-date description of syphilis" It adds that "he was the first to argue that small doses of what makes people ill can also cure them".[1] Many of his remedies were based on the Classical belief that "like cures like" and in this he was practising what today is regarded as homeopathy.

"Sarah Richardson, Director of the Society of Homeopaths (U.K.), accords Paracelus a special place in the development of "the homeopathic principle", saying he went on to illustrate the principle by curing a village of the plague with medicine made from minute amounts of the villagers, own excreta".[2]

"The background to this is the summer of 1534, during which Paracelsus claimed to have cured many in the plague-stricken town of Stertzing with pills containing a minute amount of the patient's excreta.[3] According to Anna Stoddart's The life of Paracelsus, Theophrastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541,

Paracelsus stayed some weeks at Stertzing and was appalled at the ignorance and helplessness of the local doctors... He decided to put his own experience and opinion into writing for the benefit of the afflicted town.... He appended to his diagnosis of the plague a series of counsels as to its treatment and a number of prescriptions and recipes. The little book in four chapters was presented to the " Burgomaster and Magistrates of Stertzingen, ... He received little thanks for his book from the civic worthies, but it is probable that during his stay in Stertzing he practised as one knowing the plague and made enough of money to provide himself with necessary clothing, food, and lodging."[4]


I have noted some of the other evidence for this hypothesis for the talk page already:

Here is the point about Paracelus summed up there:

1. The central principle - as stated in the meta notes for this page - is

"Alternative medicine that uses extremely small specially prepared doses of the drugs that cause the similar syndrome of symptoms as the person's illness."

This is the idea that prompted P to connect 'thistle scratches' with inflammation, and 'miniscule parts of plague excreata' with curing the illness itself. As noted already, the quote are in the historical origins section and illustrate the central homeopathic idea of 'like cures like'. It may not be 'homeopathic' in the current sense, but it has historical notability.

2. Paracelsus popularised this idea, influencing Hahnemann. Pierre-Alain provided a quote confirming that:

"Peter Morell (historian of medicine, with training in homeopathy and conventional biology), "Hahnemann and Homoeopathy". ... Hahnemann was reluctant to associate his new system of medicine with the name of Theophrastus or Paracelsus for fear of being misunderstood or being accused of plagiarism. (p. 15)... The truth is of course, that Hahnemann was a second Paracelsus, but he felt he had to hide this fact. (p.72)"

3. I do not especially wish to argue for P as either the 'Father' of Homeopathy - or as a 'founding figure'. In response to Dana's request, I gave examples showing that 'some' people say he is the former, and others consider him the latter.

I also offered: ""The doctrine of signatures was a purely philosophical notion until Boehme's predecessor, the alchemist Paracelsus, had applied it to medicine ..." from page 27 of The American Institute of Homeopathy Handbook by Edward, M.D., D.Ht. Shalts"

As Pierre-Alain put it:

"My conclusion is that the influence of Paracelsus on Hahnemann, a very erudite person, was major. There are far more resemblances between P and H than this (signatures). Should we say "father of homeopathy"? perhaps, with a cautionary note."

It is enough, in my view, to recognise he had a 'noteworthy' influence. Ramanand has provided several good points in this regard,such as that the Britannica article on Homeopathy states that P "was the first to declare that, if given in small doses, “what makes a man ill also cures him,” an anticipation of the modern practice of homeopathy. "

Martin Cohen 18:43, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

- but had only this response from the editor deleting several people's comments on Paracelus - not just mine, I stress:

"Martin, in due respect, I do not think that your scholarship is good here. Just because one author referred to Hahnemann the "second Paracelsus" does not have the meaning you suggest. Paracelsus was a medical revolutionary, as was Hahnemann, and both were hated by the orthodoxy. That is the point. This certainly does not mean that Paracelsus is or was the "father" or "founder" of homeopathy. What I am concerned about now is that you have been repeatedly told by several people here that they do not agree with you, and yet, you are not listening. I hope that you begin to listen better so that collaboration can be most effective.

And in reference to Ramanand making reference to a single (very rare) homeopathic medicine that is taken from faeces does not have a clear reference to the homeopathic principle of similars. Martin's previous point on this was the principle of similars, and I just don't see it. Dana Ullman 05:38, 24 December 2008 (UTC) "

I responded to that thus:

"Ramanand, Pierre-Alain, Gareth and myself have all contributed material to this page on Paracelus which you have deleted offering only fleeting explanation, usually (IMO) irrelevant to the issue. Over 200 words have been deleted now. This normally requires some degree of explanation and consensus reaching, doesn't' it. None has been sought here. No compromise wordings offered. Ramanand, Pierre-Alain and even Gareth have added extra references and supporting material. All of this effort is being discarded.

Here is my suggestion again:

1. We have an historical origins section. (Re. Howard's point of the 24 December - if we didn't well, yes, we could leave the article explicitly NOT covering the pre_H history of Homeopathy). Paracelus and Hippocrates belong in this section. See 'Final Arguments in the Case of Paracelus' above. Numerous citations to this effect, from the Britannica:

"He was the first to declare that, if given in small doses, “what makes a man ill also cures him,” an anticipation of the modern practice of homeopathy..."onwards have been given - see above too. Ramanand and Gareth's work describing the two celebrated historical cases of 'like-cures-like' examples of P using thistles to cure inflammation, and P using excrement affected bread to cure plague should be restored.

Here is the text deleted:

(Paracelsus asserted the healing power of "signatures", meaning that the appearance of a substance in nature (its color and its shape), represented the types of diseases which it could cure. )This led him, for example, to teach that the pricking of thistles cures internal inflammation, and is sometimes cited as an early form of the "principle of similars". ref Theophrastus Paracelsus Catholic Encyclopaedia entry/ref In the summer of 1534, Paracelsius claimed to have cured many in the plague-stricken town of Stertzing with pills containing a minute amount of the patient's excreta.ref. Cited by Homeopathy Encyclopaedia Britannica. According to " The life of Paracelsus, Theophrastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541" by Anna M. Stoddart (1911) "Paracelsus stayed some weeks at Stertzing and was appalled at the ignorance and helplessness of the local doctors... He decided to put his own experience and opinion into writing for the benefit of the afflicted town.... He appended to his diagnosis of the plague a series of counsels as to its treatment and a number of prescriptions and recipes. The little book in four chapters was presented to the " Burgomaster and Magistrates of Stertzingen, ... He received little thanks for his book from the civic worthies, but it is probable that during his stay in Stertzing he practised as one knowing the plague and made enough of money to provide himself with necessary clothing, food, and lodging."/ref

.... Martin Cohen 14:56, 24 December 2008 (UTC) "

Matt Innis, as constable for the page, then suggested the "CZ:Dispute Resolution process should be followed". However, Martt now seems to prefer to approve the page? But that is still what I would like to set in motion then please. I hope the notes above are useful in getting the matter clarified. I think that Paracelus should appear prominently on the Homeopathy page where the theory’s origins are RIGHTLY mentioned and discussed. No short-cuts, CZ is accurate and that means 'complete' - or it is pointless - however many pages are 'finished'. Martin Cohen 12:11, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

Martin, you argue strongly and cogently. Nevertheless, for readers who wish to access Homeopathy with a curiosity about the subject's historical roots, we should direct them to the main article on that topic, History of Homeopathy, the appropriate place for discussing the roots homeopathy pre-Hahnemann, the uncontroversially recognized founding father of modern homeopathy. There they can read an extensive, authoritative, qualified and balanced view of the pre-history of homeopathy. In Homeopathy we need only start with the founding father, indicating that the reader can learn about the pre-Hahnemann foreshadowings of homeopathy in a companion article, History of Homeopathy. No need to have the same material in both articles. No scholarship standards should thereby suffer. And we can get on to approving Homeopathy, then improving History of Homeopathy. Nothing important about the historical roots of homeopathy will escape CZ's mission for quality, in this case, everything in its proper place. --Anthony.Sebastian 17:30, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
In light of Dana's extensive homeopathic education and understanding and Martin's perspective related to the larger historical aspects, it is apparent that this subject is indeed interesting and warrents further exploration and investigation. Approval is in no way a stopping point. It is merely a 'starting' point that everyone can agree is essentially not incorrect. I agree that Anthony's solution does manage this debate well. Once the History of Homeopathy article is complete, I personally would consider revisiting this page and update anything that was appropriate for this page for re-approval. Let's approve this page and move to history. I can endorse this version which is the last version before this post, January 3, 2009. Gareth, if you agree, please change the version number on the template. We will need Dana to agree as well. Otherwise, continue to edit as you see fit. D. Matt Innis 02:21, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Version for approval

Thanks Anthony for the constructive suggestion. However I am nominating for approval a version without incorporating it. Virtually every contemporary source explaining homeopathy written by or for homeopaths starts by invoking Hippocrates. This seems important to homeopaths, and I can understand why: it is at the heart of their claim to a tradition as old as conventional medicine, from the same humane roots, at the heart of their legitimacy as a true "alternative" medicine. It doesn't really matter what Hippocrates actually said -nothing of his writings survives - but Hahnemann claimed Hippocrates for homeopathy, and that is indisputably true.

On Paracelsus; Martin wants to reinstate some text which I inserted originally. Dana deleted the text and on consideration I think he was right. Matt concurred. On my count all three editors here agreed on an editorial judgement about the scope of the article. This is the editorial role under Citizendium. Authors who disagreed expressed their views and were answered (at length). I've reviewed the discusssion again; thanks Martin for reminding me of Peter Morell's writings; Peter is an old friend and I have cited him enough I think. Peter's writings on the web are lively and provocative, they are a useful lead to serious sources and I probably used a lead from one of his essays to the insert on Paracelsus; I do recommend them to those who wish to write on the History of Homeopathy, but please remember that his web writings are written with a liberty not normally given to academic publications (Peter of course has ample academic writings also). However the comments raised above do not address the issues behind the editorial decision on the article scope, so raise no new relevant points.

I am not neutral in this; I am very much on the side of Citizendium. It so happens that I was the author of deleted text, but am concurring with its deletion. That change was explained on these pages and agreed by all editors (including me, and indeed by most authors). It seems to me that editors here have fulfilled their role in Citizendium. One purpose of the editorial role is to end disputes like this, and if there has been a fault it is perhaps that we editors have not made it clear enough that a decision has been made and this matter must be put to rest for the good of the article and the project. Please do not revive this dispute on these pages; if anyone disagrees with Citizendium policies on the roles of editors, this is not the place to air those disagreements, and if anyone feels that I have misused my position as seditor then you must appeal to the editor in Chief and not here.

So I am now nominating for approval the most recently revised version excluding Anthony's suggestion. Dana, Matt, Larry - are you in agreement?Gareth Leng 11:24, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Though I haven't carefully followed all the details of the dispute here, I do have to say that you have admirably summed up CZ's policy. So if the subject editors here are in agreement, I support them without further comment. --Larry Sanger 14:47, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I can support and do endorse that version as well and have added my name to the metadata template as editor 2. I look forward to the History of Homeopathy article and subsequent resolution of the Paracelsus/Hippocrates debate over there. I will also email Dana. D. Matt Innis 15:12, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Gareth has provided a good summary, and I agree with him. I am now ready to vote for APPROVAL of this article. How do I do that? Dana Ullman 16:16, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
Dana, go to the metadata template and put your name after 'ToA editor3=' and save the changes. D. Matt Innis 16:33, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

I have changed the approved version to include previously approved copyedits and moving the NCCAM info. Nothing changes the content of the approved version that Gareth gave us. D. Matt Innis 16:33, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

I have again changed the version number to include Hayford's last copyedits. D. Matt Innis 19:20, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Nature not buying

Giles J. (2007) Degrees in homeopathy slated as unscientific. Nature 446:352-353.

Colquhoun D. (2007) Science degrees without the science. Nature 446:373-374.

Kutschera U. (2008) The Difference between Hahnemann and Darwin Skeptical Inquirer Jan/Feb Issue

--Anthony.Sebastian 04:05, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanks Anthony; of course I know the controversy well (and know David well too). I think the article at present states the attitude of conventional science to homeopathy clearly enough; if we had dwelt on UK degrees in homeopathy it would have been right to mention this but we didn't, and maybe it's a UK-centric issue (there are issues like the status of different universities - in the UK universities are very far from equal in academic status but they are sometimes talked about as though they were). I'll add these to subpages though (maybe bibliography).Gareth Leng 10:40, 4 January 2009 (UTC)


This should probably be asked on the history of homeopathy talk page but did Paracelsus use dilutions or did he treat with higher concentrations? While similars is a highly significant part of Hahnemann's homeopathy the preparation of the remedies seems equally, if not more, important too. Sorry if I missed this in the discussion above. Chris Day 16:15, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Yes, Chris, very good point. This is exactly the type of questions that need to be asked and answered and collaborated on before we put anything here. I look forward to future discussions to see how it works out on the History of Homeopathy page - stay tuned! D. Matt Innis 16:36, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

What does the magisterial 1941 E.B. say about the whole thing (just out of curiosity)?

And I quote from page 708, column 1, Volume 11: "Some points of Hahnemann's system were borrowed from previous writers—as he himself, though imperfectly, admits. Not to mention others, he was anticipated by Hippocrates, and especially by Paracelsus (1495-1541). The identical words similia similibus curantur occur in the Geneva edition (1658) of the works of Paracelsus, as a marginal heading of one of the paragraphs."

The article takes up a little less than two columns and is unsigned. The end of the article is: "But in the medical profession homoepathy nevertheless remains under the stigma of being a dissenting sect. It is in the United States that homoepathy chiefly flourishes. In other countries it has a few practitioners and a few homoepathic hospitals have been founded. Associations (some of which conduct examinations and grant diplomas) are in existence in England, the United States, Canada, Germany, France and Italy to further the principles of the school and in each of the countries mentioned one or more journals devoted to homoepathy is in existence." Hayford Peirce 19:08, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Good news. What we have is still in line with that statement. That needs to go on the History of Homeopathy discussion page, too. D. Matt Innis 19:13, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps this is more workgroup(s) than even history of homeopathy, but I started rereading Lewis Thomas' The Youngest Science, a book that is a must-read. In many of these historical contexts, it is easy lose track of his argument that conventional medicine is among the youngest of sciences: "As early as 1937, medicine was changing into a technology base on genuine science"...but Thomas goes on to mention that medicine of that time still could not do anything for the bulk of patients with serious disease. Things like specific immunotherapy were just starting were only starting, but things like ligand-receptor interactions remained in the distant future. Perhaps the onion metaphor is even more relevant to molecular medicine, as the amount of contemporary knowledge -- and knowing what we don't know -- grows exponentially. Some CAM techniques actively learn, but others do seem stuck with medieval or ancient views.
I shall drop this, but suggest again that some metadiscussions need their own pages. There is a start at the Healing Arts discussion page. Some wonderful methods have interdisciplinary roots, indeed involving both the traditional and the molecular. I'm reminded of the sin nombre hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in the Southwest U.S. in 1993. Solving it took both CDC epidemiologists and Navajo traditional healers. This is one of the reasons I oppose the health sciences/healing arts split, and I'd like to see some integrative metadiscussions and active work planning that doesn't follow artificial splits.
I've said my piece on this. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:31, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
Ohhh, you've just touched the tip of the iceberg for sure. I agree that the history of medicine is one in the same for alternative medicine. It intertwines with the history of religion and the history of science. There are so many more articles to write. We need everyone working on them. But, I agree, not here. D. Matt Innis 19:44, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

APPROVED Version 1.0

Congratulations Healing Arts editors! It took a while but the results are worth it.

Chris Day 20:34, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, Chris, and everyone else that poured out their heart and souls on this. Good work. Take a little breather before we go to work on Global warming, HA! just kidding (unless you're game :-) D. Matt Innis 21:15, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
Sir, please work on your mixed metaphors: global warming after touching the tip of the iceberg? I do note we have no article on RMS Titanic.Howard C. Berkowitz 02:28, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
You could always come and work on the Church of Scientology. No dilutions, but plenty of inter-galactic space aliens and friendly legal threats from the Fair Game department. --Tom Morris 04:07, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
Congratulations, everyone. Getting an article on a contentious topic like this approved says a lot about the value and potential of our project. Such a thing could simply not happen in a project like Wikipedia (check out the notices on their article!). --Joe Quick 21:28, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
Congratulations, omne. (Chunbum Park 22:45, 4 January 2009 (UTC))

Congratulations to everyone! Now, let's vote this for the Article of the Week and put it on the front page.  :-) --Larry Sanger 01:17, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Without my commas and semi-colon corrections, it wouldna made it! Now, I think that some "vandal" here should disguise him/self and use it to replace, in its entirety, the same entry over at The Other Place. I wonder what would happen.... Hayford Peirce 02:20, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
The Other Place has its version locked. One can't even give it a homeopathic quantity of editing. Hey, do they have a Content is from Citizendium checkbox? Howard C. Berkowitz 02:27, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
I could import a French translation in the FR-WP! Seriously, I may do that for some sections and see what happens. But later. --Pierre-Alain Gouanvic 02:33, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, they *do* have a link to a James Randi video (apparently a lecture at Princeton) called "Homeopathy explained", so it can't be *all* bad! Hayford Peirce 02:36, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Rather irritating last paragraph

I find the last paragraph rather irritating:

Scientists in almost any area expect that, what today is the consensus understanding will, in some tomorrow, by a mere curiosity in the history of science. They do not have all the answers, and they expect that many of their present "answers" will turn out to be not quite right and some will be quite wrong. They generally think it very unlikely homeopathy will ultimately prove to have any validity; but of course this is one of those things that they might turn out to be wrong about.

Yes, scientists may be wrong about stuff. Do we need to have this on every science and medicine article? I mean, scientists may be wrong about homeopathy. They may be wrong about gravity, evolution and the Big Bang also. Surely, when they are wrong, we can change the article to reflect that. Until then, this feels very much like some kind of less-than-optimal bit of epistemic relativist trifle to try and spin an otherwise much improved article. If we want to have a proper discussion of the philosophy of science, then perhaps it would be appropriate to put them in an appropriately titled article in the Philosophy workgroup. The current placement of it makes it into a sort of 'get-out' clause. "Don't you worry about the fact that all these scientist types say homeopathy is about as real as Disneyland and safe only because there's no actual substance left in there - well, science has been wrong before, y'know, and if you just hang around for a century or two, it might be wrong again." That's how it reads to me. (I'd rather like it if all the people who seem to bang on about scientific fallibility would actually do the experiments and research necessary to show how they are right and the big bad bogeyman 'Science-with-a-capital-S' - or 'Big Science'! - is wrong - there'd no doubt be a Nobel Prize waiting for someone who did actually overturn the current understanding on the 'memory of water'.)

So, yes, the approved version is dramatically better than the last time I checked in, but it's still not to the point where I could recommend it to people because of this abysmal paragraph. --Tom Morris 04:00, 5 January 2009 (UTC) and edited later to remove potentially inflammatory remarks

Thanks for that Tom. It is rather refreshing to see a scientist not arguing from a position of authority isn't it. Gareth wrote that whole last Overview section, so I'll bend to his credentials. Maybe your friends could learn something from him, I did. D. Matt Innis 04:35, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
Who are you referring to when you say that it's "refreshing to see a scientist not arguing from a position of authority"? I generally don't see scientists arguing from authority. Science is refreshing in as much as it has things like error bars. What I would give for a world where politicians, religious leaders, economists and even philosophers could attach to their statements some kind of numerical assessment of how wrong they might be! --Tom Morris 04:49, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
Scientists may or may not believe in Murphy's Law. Engineers tend to believe Murphy was an optimist. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:54, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
Who are you referring to when you say that it's "refreshing to see a scientist not arguing from a position of authority"? I generally don't see scientists arguing from authority. Why, that Other Place of course! D. Matt Innis 05:00, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Also, I'd like to pre-emptively apologise if I sound rather rude in the above comments. I certainly don't mean to be rude about anybody, but I do think the section needs rethinking. I think the 'Overview' section at the end feels too much like spin (not saying that anyone is trying to spin, but that this is how it feels to me as a reader). The substantive bits should be distributed out into the rest of the article, discussions about how science work should be simply a link to a more detailed page about it, and whatever is left should be sent to the bit bucket. An encyclopedia article doesn't really need a conclusion. The overview should be at the beginning, as per the inverted pyramid style used in journalism and, I would suggest, good encyclopedia articles. --Tom Morris 05:03, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

No offense taken, Tom, your thoughts are reasonable and the draft can still be edited. It's a neverending process. I think in any collaborative effort, some compromises have to be made, and for whatever reason, this is what worked for this page at this time. Approval allows this to be the baseline from which we will work. Feel free to edit whatever you like on the draft. D. Matt Innis 05:11, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
Speaking as a philosopher, I don't find the last paragraph either relativistic or the slightest bit irritating. It actually may help the average reader to put things into proper perspective. --Larry Sanger 05:45, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
I think it is important to be sensitive to the fact that although we as scientists believe in arguing from reason and not from authority, nevertheless what we say is often taken as authority, and indeed as 'fact' even where we would understand things as 'working hypotheses'. This article is intended, very purposefully, to invite the reader to make up his or her own mind, and not to accept at face value what is written either by scientists or by homeopaths without engaging brain. The way that scientists look at problems is different from how even medics look at them; Dana was quite right to protest that lots of conventional medical treatments do not have a strong scientific basis; accordingly to distribute the overview would not I think work - it is an overview primarily from the perspective of science, and in being from one perspective has some responsibility to be appropriately humble - an overview from another perspective (medical or homeopathic) would be different, and an overview from several would be confused. As for needing an overview - well one of the difficulties with balance is that the order given to saying things imposes a bias, - who has "the last word". One reason for doing things this way was to say, in effect, that here it's the reader who has the last word.Gareth Leng 14:00, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Tom, speaking about Nobel laureates and the memory of water, you may be interested by Physics Nobel laureate Brian Josephson, who has interesting thoughts about the reaction of most of the scientific community towards the claimed implausibility of homeopathy.
His Cambridge University homepage:
--Pierre-Alain Gouanvic 07:10, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
This seems a belated attempt to 'water down' er... greatly dilute the 'conventional science' perspective that pervades this article. If so, I welcome the attempt, but I doubt if it will help the 'average reader' and it blunders into the areas of 'philosophy of science' that until Larry's recent ruling on 'no philosophy here', I might have been involved in expressing more precisely.
Re. the page as a whole, well, it could have been better but so could everything. If Matt is right about the History of Homeopathy page being revised using some of the 'so much' reseach done by 'so many' for 'so little'... that will help. Martin Cohen 19:26, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
Martin, I'm asking you to stop referring to a "no philosophy here" ruling by me. There was no such ruling, and I think you know that. If you think there was, you are confused or you didn't read my comments all the way through. I explained this on the forums at length, so I am disappointed to see this false statement repeated here; the only thing I did was to remove the Philosophy Workgroup from editorial management of this page, a point that you'll find all the editors here agreeing with. Relevant philosophical perspectives on homeopathy, if there are any, are welcome here, as far as I am concerned. --Larry Sanger 04:31, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Do you have a specific link in mind? i saw a couple of letters to newspapers but all he was really saying was we should keep an open mind. Chris Day 19:48, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
re. Josephson: memory of water and the epistemology of homeopathy (re Martin's comments) are subjected to two different (and mutually reinforcing) rulings. See memory of water, where I'll provide more explanations. --Pierre-Alain Gouanvic 20:27, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
So he is going down the conformation bias route, even pathological bias. I skimmed his content and note he speaks highly of Joe McMoneagle (someone who I had not heard of before); is his remote viewing really credible? To me Josephson's message seems to be "we have been wrong before" and explaining the phenomena of scientific dogma, but this is not a strong endorsement of the work he describes. Chris Day 21:01, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree with Chris here. Brian Josephson seems sometimes to be an apparently indiscriminate defender of all derided theories; I suspect this is just to provocatively offset the "bandwagon" effect whereby scientists often seem to think something is nonsense just because other scientists say so. I suspect that he would be just as outraged that anyone would use his authority to support a position as he is outraged at the use of scientific authority to suppress dissent.Gareth Leng 14:17, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Saying that he's indiscriminate (apparently, sometimes) and that he falls in the bandwagon fallacy seems quite extreme when you consider his main points in the memory of water affair. He's specific; Benveniste came to his university, Cambridge, to explain himself (Sir Andrew Huxley, Nobel laureate and past president of the Royal Society, also attended). On the general impression that he's giving, a comment: he's the director of "the Cambridge's Mind-Matter Unification Project, of the Theory of Condensed Matter Group at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, a project concerned primarily with the attempt to understand, from the viewpoint of the theoretical physicist, what may loosely be characterised as intelligent processes in nature, associated with brain function or with some other natural process". One can see why he may appear as you say.
Again, Gareth, you transferred my structure of water work elsewhere, and named that "memory of water", a journalistic, non-scientific term. The homeopathy article is a place to have these discussions? Let's import memory of water on this draft version of homeopathy.
--Pierre-Alain Gouanvic 01:19, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I really question whether it is appropriate to discuss memory of water in homeopathy, rather than, say, physical chemistry of water. Moving it to homeopathy appears to be making unjustified leaps.
For example, clathrate formation has been demonstrated without too much question. As I remember, the first may have been xenon-water complexes, sometime in the sixties. There are actually some concerns about safety issues with methane-water complexes on the seafloor, since a sudden methane release poses danger of fire or explosion.
Before leaping to discuss clathrates as the mechanism of homeopathy, are there not some prerequisites? It would seem basic to determine if clathrates can affect biological systems. It would also seem basic to test for the presence of clathrates in homeopathic preparations.
Now, if clathrates are shown to have biological effects, AND homeopathic preparations have demonstrable levels of clathrates, I would regard it as completely appropriate to discuss it in a homeopathic context. Whether it is appropriate to discuss in the main homeopathy article is another matter. As a parallel, it is appropriate, when discussing antibiotics in general, in an article that deals with their pharmacology, to mention that beta-lactam family antibiotics interfere with the synthesis of peptides in the cell wall. Where there is a significant resistance issue, as with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the mechanisms may be quite appropriate there. There isn't discussion of antibiotic mechanisms in the article on Treponema pallidum, because there is no significance resistance problem.
Wikipedias are hyperdocuments. Hyperdocuments have links. Frankly, I do not understand the urge to try to put every possible topic into main articles. When I write hyperdocuments, as opposed to books, I constantly look for opportunities to spawn and link articles. By having links among relatively small units of knowledge, the opportunity for synergy in discovering relationships improves.
If there is memory of water, surely it would have significance in areas other than homeopathy. Why embed it there, especially when biological effects and presence in homeopathic preparations, as far as I know, are still open issues? In a totally unrelated article, dealing with military history, newly available information explains a number of actions, some being unintentional. One particular set of actions, however, is not clearly explained. What I find appropriate for encyclopedic writing is to set out the potentially relevant information, and phrase the questions that remain open. Here, I have the sense that a conclusion has been reached, and there is a search for information to support it.
Memory of water, or clathrates, or micro/nanobubble formation are legitimate topics of their own. Microbubbles, at least, are in clinical use as contrast media in echocardiography. It might well be that a clathrate could help in magnetic resonance imaging. Why force things into homeopathy? Howard C. Berkowitz 01:56, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Just ran across some nanobubble work: [1] "Clearance Properties of Nano-sized Particles and Molecules as Imaging Agents: Considerations and Caveats". As I said, not unique to homeopathy.
My physical chemistry professor would be ideal for this discussion; he was named Paul Waters.Howard C. Berkowitz 03:26, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Hippocrates, the allopath

I invite all of you who have been intrigued by the Hippocrates debate to see my recent additions to the allopathy page. This wil help for the future developments of the homeopathy page (more than I thought).

--Pierre-Alain Gouanvic 07:26, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Probably for Dana--look at Definition subpage

Could someone with homeopathic training check the Definition subpage? It's minor, but if I have learned some things here, I'm wondering if "disease" is the correct term of art. I'm not explaining that well, but the definition reads as if it was from a non-homeopathic physician describing homeopathy. "Syndrome", perhaps? Does "individualization" need to be there? Howard C. Berkowitz 20:31, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanx Howard. Here's my proposed change (the CAPS are what I am recommending that we add and the words in parenthesis are those that I recommend that we delete). Please note that I recommend that we refer to homeopathy as a "system of medicine" rather than as "Alternative medicine" because this latter term is so relative. To me, referring to acupuncture as an "alternative medicine" in its definition seems strange.
A SYSTEM OF (Alternative) medicine which asserts that substances known to cause IN OVERDOSE SPECIFIC SYNDROMES OF SYMPTOMS (particular symptoms) can also, in low and specially prepared doses, help to cure PEOPLE WHO ARE ILL WITH A SIMILAR SYNDROME OF SYMPTOMS (diseases that cause similar symptoms); most mainstream medical doctors and scientists, particularly those in the West, do not accept this. Dana Ullman 04:20, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
"System of medicine" is fine. In the major CAM taxonomies, NCCAM and UK Parliament, "alternative" is generally synonymous, the NCCAM also referring to "whole systems" that are alternative to medicine. There are several definitions of "alternative" in different articles, but I think the idea of whole system/system of alternative medicine is important. Where things get especially complex are when techniques from systems of medicine are used as a complement to other systems, in a hopefully integrative way.
To take your example, acupuncture can either be a complementary discipline, or a subpart of the whole system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the latter by classic definition rather than the hybrid "Three Roads" approach of the Chinese government. Acupuncture is more a technique than a system.
I definite agree with changing to "syndromes of symptoms". I am less sure about deleting "alternative" unless we have general consensus on its meaning. "Whole" is actually not bad, but it's more NCCAM's word. One of the CZ challenges is going to be consistent usage of traditional medicine, complementary, and alternative. Some traditional medicine is complementary, some alternative, and here and there has become mainstream. Even allopathic doesn't work cleanly, since in the U.S., "conventional medical schools" can come from a historical allopathic or osteopathic origin. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:41, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
As a non-expert, "system of medicine" sounds to me like it describes a form of conventional medicine. The definition ought to be in line with the approved article's use of "alternative medicine". John Stephenson 05:16, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I can see why this might be confusing. If you look at integrative medicine, you will find that "system of medicine" has a specialized meaning used by both the U.K. and U.S. governments, which explicitly includes alternative medicine (I am not linking that yet because we have several conflicting definitions). One of the U.S. NCCAM terms is "whole system", which might be more clear but less ambiguous. The distinction, and it's one with which we are struggling, gets into the complex definitions of alternative, integrative, complementary, and "mainstream" medicine.
A first thought: I might create at least a redirect, with definition, for "system of medicine", perhaps to the U.K. definition that is in integrative medicine, so we can have system of medicine as a link within the definition here. It is a correct term here and not pejorative, but I can easily see how it could seem odd to anyone who doesn't know the specialized definition.
Comments? Howard C. Berkowitz 14:46, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Minor copyedit to Approved article

Can we change the penultimate heading style ("Report of the...) so it doesn't scream quite so loud? OK Matt?Gareth Leng 17:17, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I changed it to a "See Also" and made it a link to our 'Signed article' Page. If Dana has a problem or if that is not what you had in mind, let me know. D. Matt Innis 17:50, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
No biggie, no problem. Dana Ullman 14:03, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Resource and Organization inclusion?

I am wondering if it makes sense to provide a short section that refers people to leading homeopathic organizations, such as the National Center for Homeopathy (, American Institute of Homeopathy (, European Council on Homeopathy (, and perhaps some others. Dana Ullman 14:21, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

In addition to Homeopathy/External_Links? Chris Day 14:28, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
It seems only fair to have such of equal prominence to the NCCAM report. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:41, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Go ahead and put them in the draft for now to see what it looks like. D. Matt Innis 19:51, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

External comment on Homeopathy

See: --Anthony.Sebastian 18:39, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

  • And from someone who's not a homeopath, here's another external comment, and another. Having homeopaths tell us that our article is better than Wikipedia's article should really be a signal that we haven't actually gotten the article right. The "Healing Arts" workgroup is a travesty and makes me feel all icky and embarrassed. --Tom Morris 13:16, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Certainly there is a problem if CZ expertise is diverted by an influx of fringe topics, and this article certainly took a lot of time to get to approval because of its fringe and controversial nature. Nevertheless, it's not like this article is written by homeopaths (as claimed by many of these outsiders) without some balance. I don't understand why this article would be regarded as an embarrassment to citizendium? I also note that a wikipedian wrote the following:

If Citizendium's articles on homeopathy and memory of water are any testament to how the encyclopedia will be developed, there is probably not any chance that it will replace Wikipedia in spite of the latter's flaws. Joshua Schroeder 30 January, 2009

A finer critique might be more useful. Just what do wikipedians expect for an article on homeopathy? Is it really true that only an article that is written as a exposé is acceptable? I think homeopathy is a pile of crock, especially when it goes down the quantum mechanics route, but I don't see this article as an embarrassment.
Another similar example is the battle for supremacy with respect to genetically modified organisms. I often hear science apologists in academic make statements, in their zeal to promote GMO's, that are just factually incorrect i.e. there is no significant difference between GMO's and the varieties produced by traditional breeding. Wrong. Certainly I am pro GMO but I find it very embarrassing to see scientists behave like politicians. I guess this comes down to holding the high ground. We should not be rolling in the mud using propaganda and advocacy to win points. The facts should speak for themselves.
As to the Healing Arts workgroup, it really should be combined with Health Sciences and just called Heath. Chris Day 17:26, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Just a note supporting the merger: as far as I can tell from back Forum discussions, the original split came when Nancy Sculerati, a mainstream physician, wanted to make sure that the "art of medicine", including patient-physician interaction, and intuition in diagnosis and treatment, didn't get swallowed up by molecular medicine. It appears that the interpretation of "healing arts" as (T)CAM came later. See integrative medicine; I go with Marcia Angell's (former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine): "there are two kinds of medicine: medicine that works and medicine that doesn't." It's just as important to get ineffective or dangerous mainstream treatments out of use, as it is both to use effective non-mainstream methods and to stop dangerous TCAM. As to the first, anyone signing up for internal mammary bypass, neoarsphenamine, lobotomy, or thalidomide for its original indication?
I support a merger. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:38, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
I will leave this to members of the workgroups to decide. As for Nancy's views about a Healing Arts Workgroup, I believe she would probably explain them if one were to ask her. --Larry Sanger 01:17, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
I believe the article on Homeopathy should not be merged with anything else, because Homeopathy is the only system based on the law of similars, unless we count Anthroposophic medicine. I don't have time to work on a workgroup, but I believe Dana can make time. This article is pretty NPOV because every sentence or every other sentence is skeptical/critical, with some sentences and paragraphs not even having enough counter-arguments to allegations/criticism. Wikipedia's article is an attack piece, which they don't allow homeopaths to edit (homeopaths' edits' are reverted almost immediately).Ramanand Jhingade 13:12, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
No one is suggesting merging homeopathy with anything else. The suggestion is to have one Health group, made from a merger of Healing Arts and Health Sciences.
I would ask, please, not to argue over what Wikipedia does or does not do, since we aren't Wikipedia and can't control them. We can control what we do, based on whether we think it is the right thing rather than being in reaction to some other organization. May I remind you that "skeptical" was ruled outside the ground rules for the CZ homeopathy article? Howard C. Berkowitz 14:18, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
The brief negative comments from Wikipedians are as I'd expect; people often want an article to reinforce their own opinions. That is not what we are about. The intention was to create an article where the reader is invited to make up his or her own mind. It is nonsense to say that this article was mainly authored by homeopaths, but I am glad that homeopaths recognise this as an honest attempt at neutrality, and thank Dana for openly expressing this. It is not the article that I would have written alone, nor that which Dana would have written; but we both have other avenues in which we can express our own views. Here we both tried to suppress our own conclusions and present only the core arguments from which our own different conclusions are based. I think broadly we succeeded, the argument that leads to a skeptical view of homeopathy is all there, at least in a skeleton form, and so is the argument that lead to acceptance of homeopathy. An article that sought to persuade readers against homeopathy by failing to put the case for it as powerfully as possible, would be, as the Wikipedia article is, dishonest and disreputable.If I felt that scientific reason needed to be defended by censorship or suppression of inconvenient views or facts, then I would abandon scientific reason. What are we afraid of? That our readers might be stupid? They would certainly be stupid to accept arguments by authority, but I'm not hear to write for stupid people.
Merging Medicine with Biology is also an option. But Medicine is not Science; there is overlap, but we skate past fundamental differences in methodology, philosophy and understanding by this separation; and that is convenient. Having a Healing Arts workgroup allows us to have expert insiders, and I have learnt more about homeopathy and chiropractic from Dana and Matt than I could have from any mainstream source. I can write about these without believing in them, but I can't without understanding them. So we need these experts. Gareth Leng 14:44, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
While the merger discussion perhaps should move to the Forums, if I may make a clarification, the groups proposed to be merged are not Medicine and Healing Arts, but Health Sciences and Healing Arts into Health. I agree that medicine is not purely biology, and, I believe, the original reason for the split was to include things strictly not scientific, such as patient-clinician interaction and the use of informed judgment in diagnosis and treatment. These apply both to "conventional" and to "traditional, complementary and alternative" medicine, and differentiate all those disciplines from pure biological science. A Health group would reflect the comment by Marcia Angell (former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine): "There are two kinds of medicine. Medicine that works and medicine that does not work." The TCAM and conventional distinction is artificial; there are once-TCAM techniques that are now mainstream or becoming so in an integrative medicine way; there are "conventional" techniques that quite properly have been discarded.
As you point out, there is much to be learned from TCAM practitioners, not limited to homeopathy or chiropractic, dealing with interactions, a more holistic approach, and prevention. A merger would help focus on the commonalities more than the differences, and promote synergy more than conflict. Biology, psychology, physics, chemistry, engineering, etc. would become the "new complementary" disciplines. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:54, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

outdent. I oppose the merger. I believe that a workgroup has to be able to collectively stand behind the articles produced. I think it will hurt recruiting of scientists if the workgroup also spans the art side of medicine. I'm all for complimentary medicine, I just think it will hurt recruiting. Tom Kelly 08:26, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

I would argue for a single Medicine 'area'. Since Medicine consists partly of natural science and partly of applied art and science, it does not fit into any one of the navigation areas we have. Could we set Medicine apart, with only one Workgroup, Medicine Workgroup, with appropriate subgroups and subcategories? --Anthony.Sebastian 22:13, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
Ok, i'm starting to see the light. We probably should change the name from Health Sciences. Even Western Medicine has art built-in. How you comfort and reassure and educate a patient - while technically could be broken down like a scientist, really - is an art. I respect "witch doctors" in tribes which help patients have the confidence and strength to fight illness - and miracles do happen. We too often are shocked, and then quickly forget about the patients who miraculously recover and move on to the next sick patient. Maybe it would be beneficial to have an all encompassing field that does not delineate between science and art. Wikipedia has wp:med (medicine) and they also have a separate wp:alternative medicine. however in their portal:medicine, these various projects listed together. However, CZ is unique with it's approval process. So we will just have to deal with any additional headaches that arise and be more patient with approval time lines if we suddenly have a group of very active alternative medicine doctors and a few evidence-based physicians involved in the approval of articles. Thank Anthony for helping me see the light. Tom Kelly 22:38, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Is there an automated way to do the merger? all the categories need changing... all the tags - I hope a bot can do it. Tom Kelly 23:43, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

I am sure a script can be written to do this task.
As to Healing Arts being synonymous with alternative medicine, I do not believe that was the original intention. I think it was Nancy that was a early proponent of a Healing Arts workgroup as there are many areas of conventional medicine that are not necessarily science. It then morphed into an home for alternative medicine. In retrospect a better solution would have been to rename the Health Sciences workgroup to Medicine or similar. I agree with Anthony's comments above. Chris Day 17:32, 12 April 2009 (UTC)
  1. The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopaedia, second edition, edited by David Crystal
  2. New Ways to Health: A Guide to Homeopathy, by Sarah Richardson, Hamlyn 1988, page 46
  3. . Cited by Homeopathy Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  4. From " The life of Paracelsus, Theophrastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541" by Anna M. Stoddart (1911)