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Talk:Memory of water

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 Definition A pseudoscientific concept, according to which water molecules can store information about the kind of molecules they had been in contact with. [d] [e]
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I strongly disagree with this article. It relies very much on a website of Martin Chaplin, who has one purpose only in maintaining his site: "proving" that water has memory and hence that homeopathy has a scientific basis. In this article properties of water that lack any scientific foundation or observation are presented as facts. Calling this article misleading is an understatement. --Paul Wormer 09:23, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

In due respect, Martin Chaplin's site is devoted to water research, with only a relatively small section on homeopathy and the memory of water. Providing reference to several thousand articles (mostly from peer-review journals), I find that he maintains a healthy objective review of the literature. That said, perhaps you could provide more specifics to what you would change about this article. Dana Ullman 20:42, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
At an even larger scale, it can be easily observed that a wave keeps existing despite of the constant doing and undoing of hydrogen bonds, and that ice sculptures are also made of H2O molecules constantly bonding and separating.
Yes right, likewise a hurricane keeps existing and bronze sculptures exist despite air molecules and bronze atoms constantly bonding and separating. (BTW, the observation that the constituents of a solid are constantly bonding and separating is due to Chaplin.) Ergo, liquid bronze and liquid air have memory. We knew already that water and ethanol have memory, so the really interesting question becomes: are there any liquids without memory, and if so why? --Paul Wormer 09:10, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
"Yes right, likewise a hurricane keeps existing and bronze sculptures exist despite air molecules and bronze atoms constantly bonding and separating. (...) Ergo, liquid bronze and liquid air have memory. We knew already that water and ethanol have memory,"
Hi Paul, I truly think that your reasoning is interesting and useful. The question I, and scientists interested in homeopathy, would ask I guess is: if we exclude bronze sculptures, hurricanes and so forth, because it is not edible, if we exclude food, because it is broken down in the digestive tract, what is left? Water and ethanol (after parties). Perhaps there's something else I forget?
Pierre-Alain Gouanvic 00:49, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
I'm still very unhappy with this article. The fact that water has memory (which it loses after distilling twice according to the homeopaths) is very unlikely according to all present physical, chemical, and theoretical knowledge. Its existence needs very strong evidence because it would overhaul almost all of present thinking about water and its properties and in its wake it would imply that much of statistical, classical, and quantum mechanics has to be reinterpreted or even rejected. Some speculations about ortho/para water (measurements and theories find a hardly discernible difference between the two) and the presence of glass chips are much to weak to cause even a beginning of the scientific revolution that the existence of water memory would lead to.--Paul Wormer 15:54, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
"...because it would overhaul almost all of present thinking about water and its properties and in its wake it would imply that much of statistical, classical, and quantum mechanics has to be reinterpreted or even rejected. "
Paul, I think this is exactly what needs to be said in the article, especially the lead and then explained further in the appropriate areas of the article. I don't think this article is neutral if it doesn't. Would you consider explaining it (as only you can do) in the article? I will be glad to help. D. Matt Innis 23:16, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

[unindent] Right now I'm away from home and working on a small laptop screen that gives me headache after a while. At the end of April I'm back in the Netherlands and happy to formulate my objections more carefully. In the meantime: existence of water waves doesn't prove anything about water clusters, in the same way as the existence of hurricanes doesn't imply that air molecules will cluster. Even a noble gas (no forces between the molecules) will flow under influence of outside forces (under pressure difference). It is not true that in ice "H2O molecules [are] constantly bonding and separating". Why would clathrates be present in doubly distilled water under normal temperature and pressure? Anyway, if they are, they are easy to see spectroscopically, is there any evidence?--Paul Wormer 17:26, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

Okay, you are definitely the expert! I'll look for ward to seeing you at the end of April, and we'll work our way through it. D. Matt Innis 17:49, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
Hi Paul. The core of this article I think has to be the Benveniste affair. The issue simply is, what might explain his results?Gareth Leng 23:33, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the Benveniste affair is a valid topic for CZ. Further, I must confess that I don't know anything about "human basophils" and "granulocyte cell types" and that I don't have the foggiest idea in what way the "memory of water" could play a role in these cellular processes. However, the term "memory of water" strongly suggests a property of (assemblies of) water molecules and some paragraphs in the article support this picture. That is what I know about and what I object to. --Paul Wormer 15:53, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the title "Memory of water" tends to give the reader the impression that water does have a memory. I think we need to say rather quickly in the lead what we mean (and don't mean) by that title. Surely, not even homeopath's think water has a 'memory'. Though, I suppose you could look at the 'proposition' as similar to the way a computer 'stores' information? It seems that all we need to say is that 'so and so' suggests that water may 'store' information in a certain way, but then be able to explain just how unlikely this is. D. Matt Innis 17:55, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Some thoughts on the memory of water

As I see it, there are two pathways by which the concept of "memory of water" could obtain scientific credibility. First let's define what we can possibly mean by the memory of water. An obvious operational definition is the following: person A prepares a number of water samples treated with different chemicals and diluted so far that none of the molecules of the chemicals are left in the sample. Other persons (who have not communicated with A) are able to tell which chemicals have been used to prepare the samples. They can do this with a certainty that surpasses statistics. The experiment must be reproducible (by different person, at different times, in different places).

The first path by which the concept may enter science is through the high-temperature superconductivity model. There are several compounds with proven superconductivity at "high temperature" (ca. −223 °C). Although the mechanism of high-T superconductivity is not well understood, there is ample experimental evidence that it exists. Lots of theorizing and experimenting is going on in the world to get a grip on the phenomenon. Likewise, if it could be established experimentally that water had memory, then the theorizing, aided by further experiments, could commence. In this case an encyclopedia could be expected to describe the current thinking on the subject. However, there are no experiments that even remotely indicate that water has memory. There is only the very indirect evidence that homeopathically treated water may have healing properties. The associated speculations are so vague and so far removed from reality that they have no place in an encyclopedia.

The second path is by the quantum computing model. If it is possible to set up Gedankenexperimenten that show the required properties, then the phenomenon may be made plausible and scientifically acceptable. The essential characteristic of a Gedankenexperiment is that it follows very closely and carefully the established scientific rules. Speculation outside generally accepted laws is strictly forbidden. If it were allowed then everything goes and one would leave the realm of science and enter fiction (cf. Jules Verne). Quantum computing is feasible in theory according to the well-established rules of quantum mechanics, although its physical realization is still far in the future. In making the analogy: there is no Gedankenexperiment for water memory. There is no theoretical description of water memory according to widely accepted scientific rules. Maybe there are some people somewhere thinking something up, and maybe they will eventually be successful (although personally I'm doubtful), but even so, it is much too early for an encyclopedia to pay attention to such an approach (in contrast to quantum computing, which does not exist in practice either, but has enough theoretical credibility to warrant an article).

In summary: remove all the speculations about the memory of water and only report the Benveniste story (would go nicely in the history of science workgroup—if such a workgroup existed—together with polywater, cold fusion, and N-rays).--Paul Wormer 17:09, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

PS Even if it had been proved experimentally that water had a memory (quod non) then CZ is still not the place for speculative theorizing about "Redox molecules" (whatever they may be), "nanobubbles", "clathrates", "solitons", "ortho/para water", ice sulptures & water waves, and what have you. --Paul Wormer 16:40, 17 March 2009 (UTC)


I read in the lead-in:

The work resulted in considerable controversy, and some other labs stated they were unable to reproduce the reported effects, while others report confirmation.[1][2]

and I checked the references [1] and [2]. I did not find any mentioning of labs: Ref. [1] refers to an unrefereed review by the homeopathy believer M. Chaplin and [2] to the physicist Josephson, who did not do any experiments on water. So, which labs "report confirmation" of the Benveniste studies? --Paul Wormer 16:40, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Gareth Leng implicitly answered the question by changing Ref. [1] to a reference in Inflammation Res., which is a journal that I have no access to at the moment. However, judging by the title (Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation) this article will contain a very indirect proof of the existence of water memory.
Gareth Leng also extended Ref. [2] somewhat. I checked the pdf of Ref. [2], which contains viewgraphs of a lecture in which Josephson argues that scientists dismiss certain novel ideas too easily. However, Josephson does not mention any experiment or theoretical model that make the memory of water plausible (except the Benveniste experiment, of course). One needs the prestige of a Nobel laureate to get away with the reasoning: scientists have been wrong before, they are likely to be wrong again regarding the memory of water, hence memory of water exists. Josephson does not offer any argument why scientists would be wrong in this case. The tenor of the lecture is that scientists are almost always wrong, so undoubtedly in his case as well.
Further I found via Ref. [2] a 1997 letter of Josephson to New Scientist (a popular magazine about science matters) in which he offers the "proof": Simple-minded analysis may suggest that water, being a fluid, cannot have a structure of the kind that such a picture [i.e., memory, PW] 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. I like to comment that liquid crystals consist of very long molecules, much unlike water molecules, and that the properties of liquid crystals are fairly well understood. For instance, they flow like an "ordinary fluid" in one direction only, which makes them very non-ordinary fluids. And again, speculations like this are premature. Such speculations do not belong, directly or indirectly, in a non-technical encyclopedia that IMHO should only describe scientific facts (i.e., give info that is well established). --Paul Wormer 02:18, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
Agree in all respects. The Inflammation article is a similar experiment to B's and I think others have been reported, as I explained the test system is very vulnerable to false positivesGareth Leng 19:33, 20 March 2009 (UTC)


I intend to remove from the article all speculations of how water may have a memory. An encyclopedia must stick to the facts. The most pertinent facts being the effect of an ultradiluted solution on human basophils seen by (only) two teams: of Benveniste and of Ennis and the observation that they propose water memory as an explanation. Another fact is that thousands of peer-reviewed papers on water appear yearly in the most respected scientific journals that do not mention water memory, either because the authors do not observe it, or because their theoretical models do not have room for it. Speculations on nanobubbles, solitons, etc. cannot even begin to explain how liquid water can store information. And even if these speculations could make memory somewhat plausible (quod non), then still CZ must not report on them before they are generally accepted by the scientific community as the most likely explanations of well-established reproducible observations. --Paul Wormer 17:15, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

I'm not arguing with you, because you're the expert in the field, and because I myself think that the idea of water memory is ridiculous. On the other hand, if we have an article about Cold fusion, say, shouldn't there be at least some mention of how the adherents of this theory think it works? If so, then why not a *drastically scaled down* section in this article, maybe no more than a few lines, about the proponents' explanations? Or, of course, maybe a separate article entirely, Memory of water, explanations by adherents or some such? Cheers! Hayford Peirce 18:16, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Maybe I'm misreading Paul, but I think he is suggesting including a something about how "Benveniste and Ennis think it works". Any other speculation will be removed. Chris Day 18:33, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Ah, okay, I misread. Hayford Peirce 18:37, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
I have to read Benveniste's and Ennis's papers to see how deep they go into explaining the memory of water. I'm in the USA now and have no easy access to academic journals (I'm not even sure if my university subscribes to Inflammation Research, an unexpected journal for the physicochemistry of water. It is possible that I can only read the abstracts of that journal), so it has to wait until I'm back. I agree that the arguments of Benveniste and Ennis need attention.
Then there is the problem of how much weight/space one should give to "arguments" cooked up by Brian Josephson, Martin Chaplin, Rustum Roy, Pierre-Alain Gouanvic (and others) that can be found on the internet. None of them has done any experiments or has a coherent theoretical explanation; they just mention some important-sounding terms loosely connected with water. I had in mind to ignore them, but Hayford put some doubts in my mind. It will be very difficult, though, to write neutrally. Especially R. Roy (who believes that water can burn and that its combustion energy can solve the energy crisis) is very hard to take serious.--Paul Wormer 22:39, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
I read Ennis' paper and scanned the papers in the special issue of the journal "Homeopathy". I added a few sentences to the lead-in. I'm tempted to remove all sections except the one on Benveniste's work (interesting for historical reasons) and the lead-in. Anyone objects? --Paul Wormer 17:08, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Not I -- only stuff that's relevant should be there. Hayford Peirce 17:09, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I read your overview about the difficulties of trying to negotiate all the alternative ideas on the forums. I think you are correct and will support your edits here. Chris Day 17:39, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
You have my support as well. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:45, 28 April 2009 (UTC)


Non-constable comment :) Just making a quick skim, the article seems to be divided into two sections that repeats itself. D. Matt Innis 19:30, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

  • Matt, I don't see the repetitions. Indeed, the Benveniste study is mentioned twice, but the second time there is much more technical detail and the emphasis is on the background of the Nature article. The lead-in is an easier read and is about the Le Monde article, the international consortium of Madeleine Ennis, the articles in the journal Homeopathy and the mainstream-science view.
  • In addition, I only shortened the article, removed a few sections and did not touch the second section at all, so surely your comment must apply to the earlier version too?
  • On second thought, trying to understand your criticism I reread the 2nd section and entered a few minute changes and also noticed that the work to Ennis et al. is referred to twice, which I will fix.
  • So, please be more specific in pointing out the repetitions that disturb you.
--Paul Wormer 08:37, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Paul, thanks for taking the time to respond to my concerns! I see what you mean about how the article works, and after re-reading the second section more carefully, I do see that it is different than the first.
I am concerned that the lead should say more quickly (prefereably in the first or second sentence) that "Memory of water" is a homeopathic phrase (unless you think another field uses this term) and, though it has some science behind it (albeit questionable), the flaws prevent it from being taken seriously. The current lead doesn't really make this clear until the last sentence. Though the middle two paragraphs handle the 'questionable science', they get pretty complicated and might tend to lose the reader before they get to that last sentence at the end - leaving the reader with the feeling that this is an acceptible phenomenon. Other than that, it looks pretty good. D. Matt Innis 01:44, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I looked at it again, and I see that the first paragraph of the lead does make mention that mainstream doesn't accept it.. so I still come back to the second paragraph delving too deep, too quickly. I think some could be move to the second section, but I'll think about it some more in the morning! D. Matt Innis 01:50, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I've been thinking for a couple of days how I could do more rewriting of the first two paras. That's a *long* sentence to start with. Maybe I'll give it go, myte.... Hayford Peirce 02:01, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
To me it seems that we are getting somewhere, the article is converging. The only thing is: Is it clear to non-scientists that the so-called "explanations" as "electromagnetic exchange of information between molecules", "breaking of temporal symmetry", "thermoluminescence", "entanglement described by a new quantum theory", "formation of hydrogen peroxide", "clathrate formation", etc. are loads of rubbish and moreover contradict each other? The articles in the journal "Homeopathy" are autistic in that they ignore each other completely; one article says something completely opposed to the next. In regular science this is unheard of. In a special-topic issue authors are usually on one line and when there is disagreement it is discussed at length, not completely and autistically ignored. The main editor of the special-topic issue will see to that. --Paul Wormer 06:32, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I consider myself a non-scientist and I got it when I read the whole thing through. You're realization that the homeopathic journal has different explanations is important. We need to re-arrange the article in such a way to illustrate that the so-called "explanations" as "electromagnetic exchange of information between molecules", "breaking of temporal symmetry", "thermoluminescence", "entanglement described by a new quantum theory", "formation of hydrogen peroxide", "clathrate formation", etc. are all attempts to explain how water could "store" information, thus the pseudonym "water memory". Then we can note that the the mainstream considers them all rubbish, and you can state it as harshly as you feel necessary and comfortable, but remember that the public does not respond well to criticism that is not based on sound information - so "harsh" is not as important as "reasoned". It would be best to cite a strong scientific source, of course, but you're being a chemistry and physics editor is sufficient for me.
I think we do a good job of explaining why mainstream scientists feel the way that they do and we've done it in a way that I have never seen before; using reasonable scientific rationale rather than dogma disguised as science. If we were to expand it, we would have to expand on some of the other hypotheses and consider the status of research for each of them.
D. Matt Innis 13:05, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I wrote on the forum about this problem. My initial plan was to review the alternative theories and to write— with as little prejudice as possible—what the mainstream science view was on them. I thought that I had to review one or two, or at most three, different theories. I gave up on this plan when I saw that there so many different alternative theories. It would take me too much time and the CZ article would become too long to review all of them. Also, I couldn't discern one or two dominant theories to which I could restrict my attention. --Paul Wormer 13:20, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

(undent)Ah, of course, that makes sense. I know I would be clueless if it weren't for the work that you and others have already put into this. I would be satisfied with one or two sentences, I think, of your overall assessments of what you read - just enough to show that you considered them. Meanwhile, would you look at this re-write of the lead and let me know if it is an improvement or not. You can pick and choose parts of it, too if you want. I was just looking to clarify and simplify it some for the average reader. This is what we have now:

  • Memory of water is a phrase used by homeopaths to help explain what they believe are the foundations of homeopathy. The phrase itself was first used in a June 30, 1988, article on the front page of Le Monde, a leading French newspaper, about a controversial piece of research by Jacques Benveniste and his colleagues on homeopathy that was being published that same day in the prestigious English journal Nature. It was the Le Monde article, actually called "La mémoire de la matière" (the memory of matter) and not "La mémoire de l'eau" (the memory of water), that popularized the phrase. In the two decades since, however, aside from homeopaths, no mainstream scientists have accepted the concept.

This is what I was thinking:

  • Memory of water is a phrase adopted by homeopaths to explain how their remedies might create the results that they claim they see in their patients. Being of such high dilutions, the remedies likely do not contain even one molecule of substance other than water. This has led them to speculate with a variety of possible explanations for the responses that they see, all of which they include under the one name, "memory of water". One such explanation was embodied in research by Jacques Benveniste and his colleagues, published in the prestigious English journal Nature in June of 1998. Benveniste purportedly discovered that diluted water might retain some qualities of the materials that were once dissolved within it. The French newspaper Le Monde popularized the phrase that same day in an article on the front page and touted it's ramifications on the practice of homeopathy. [1] The research has not survived rigorous scrutiny and it's conclusions remain controversial. In the two decades since, mainstream scientists have not accepted any of the "memory of water" concepts as plausible. D. Matt Innis 14:03, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Your paragraph looks pretty good to me, Matt. I also agree with what you say above: Paul should make clear to the general reader, ie, me, that each of these 13 "explanations" contradicts the other and that all of them are rubbish. As if 13 lunatics accepted the "fact" that the Moon is made of cheese, and then wrangle about what *kind* of cheese it is. Hayford Peirce 15:03, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Is this an appropriate place to say how much I despise that phrase "mainstream scientists"? It implies that there is an identifiable community of "mainstream scientists", and by implication a corresponding community "non-mainstream scientists", and that simply isn't true. Scientists who adhere to the majority view on certain topics often adhere to minority views on other topics. For example, there's no reason to believe that those who adhere to minority positions on global warming or cold fusion accept this "memory of water" business. Raymond Arritt 15:26, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Raymond, come up with a better term for scientists that know about thermodynamics, forces between molecules, spectroscopy, molecular dynamics, etc. and who usually publish in journals of the ACS and APS (American Chemical/Physical Societies). I'm happy to trade in the term "mainstream scientist" for a better one. Hayford, I have a problem with explaining the nuttiness of some of the theories in accordance with CZ's neutrality policy. I wish I could use the cheesy moon metaphor, but the constabulary wouldn't let me.--Paul Wormer 16:06, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Raymond, I'm afraid that there isn't any other phrase that we've been able to come up with that satisfies (not very much) everyone concerned. The fringe believers want to call them "skeptics", but in a disparaging sense. A lot of people object to that, just as the fringe believers object to being called "fringe". "General scientific community" has also been used, I think. Please give us a better one and I promise that we'll use it. Paul, I wish I could take off my Konstabulary Kap and tell you to use the cheese metaphor, but I can't. I think if you, an Editor in the field, simply had a declarative sentence such as: "Those who believe (or tend to believe or some such) in the evidence for a memory of water have, at the very minimum, 9 (or whatever the number is) totally different possible explanations for this purported phenemona. Not a single one of them, however, is supported by, or accepted by, mainstream scientists." And stick in as many footnotes as you want as links to these various explanations. (Could there be a related subarticle called "Explanations of purported "Memory of Water"?) Hayford Peirce 17:41, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
If most scientists do not accept X, then why not simply state "Most scientists do not accept X"? Raymond Arritt 18:50, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Paul, the constabulary would be upset :) and shame on you Hayford for even talking like that on a talk page. I also agree with Raymond and see no reason we can't say that "most scientists do not accept X", though we should be able to defend that statement. In other words, we should be able to explain all perspectives thoroughly and let the reader decide. Just stating that most scientists disagree would not convince me that the other side is misguided. D. Matt Innis 21:48, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
It's possible to explain a perspective to the extent that it is internally consistent. This is difficult when one side has to prove a negative, and there is no single "other side". One can state Benveniste's perspective, and respond that it has not been possible to replicate his results. The homeopathic views (plural) are not really part of the argument, since they assume memory of water exist but do not offer data to confirm it. Neutrality does not mean stating that all sides have equally valid positions. Extraordinary claims merit extraordinary proof; one can only go so far in "defending" a minority opinion that something exists, when the general expert perspective, including that of our Editors, is that it does not. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:34, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I entirely agree with Raymond on this one. --Daniel Mietchen 22:36, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

(undent) I went ahead and changed the lead as indicated, but realize that it is not perfect. Feel free to make any changes you feel necessary or revert the whole thing if you like. D. Matt Innis 01:19, 2 May 2009 (UTC)


I changed a few statements, mainly because I felt that they didn't accurately represent the history of the Benveniste affair.

  • My first change had a different reason: I removed the adjective "beneficial" in the first sentence because it is non-neutral and a sloppy reader may see it as (yet another) advertisement of the benefits of homeopathy.
  • I added aqueous solution, because obviously we are talking about remedies on water basis. I cannot judge how well-known the phrase "aqueous" is, that's why I added "watery" in brackets.
  • "A number of explanations". No, there is one explanation for the healing effect, namely memory of water, but how water may have a memory has a number of explanations. I added a sentence from the article in Le Monde about the "souvenir de l'eau".
  • Benveniste's first paper does not discuss the memory of water and does not give any other explanation. Interestingly enough, the paper states that ethanol and propanol also have biological effects after extreme dilution. This remark is completely ignored in the later homeopathic literature that likes to see water as a very special substance.
  • Le Monde does not discuss homeopathy as a healing practice, but makes a big issue out of the bouleversement des fondaments de la physique (overthrow of the foundations of physics) and a véritable révolution scientifique (a true scientific revolution). Further Le Monde writes: Mais ce serait pourtant une profonde erreur de conclure à la démonstration de l'efficacité thérapeuthique de l'homéopathie. (But it would yet be a profound error to agree that this [i.e,. Benveniste's article] proves the therapeutic effectiveness of homeopathy.)
  • I added to the scrutiny of whom the work did not survive (namely to the scrutiny of the Maddox committee).
  • I replaced the term "mainstream scientists", despised by some, by "molecular physicists and physical chemists working in the laboratory", taking the chance this phrase is even more despicable.
  • I moved some references up.
  • In the second section I emphasized the unlikeliness of some explanations by adding "require revolutionary new physical laws". I agree with Le Monde on this. Note, too, that Madeleine Ennis et al. declare: Although a biological action of ultra high dilutions has been shown, this is extremely controversial.

--Paul Wormer 13:19, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

PS Rereading the article, I see that its style is here and there open to improvement.

I also read a few more of the articles in the reference list, and I'm shocked to see how little evidence there is; even from the pharmacological point of view. From the physical chemistry point of view, I've never doubted that the concept "memory of water" was complete and utter rubbish, but now I see that also pharmacologically the evidence is extremely shaky. The fact that the moon is made of cheese prepared from milk of the female unicorn is in comparison very plausible. (Who says that Neil Armstrong proved otherwise? Those astronauts have been wrong before).--Paul Wormer 14:53, 2 May 2009 (UTC)


The article has "most other laboratories stated they were unable to reproduce the reported effects, while, on the other hand, an international collaboration led by Professor Madeleine Ennis of Queen's University of Belfast reported confirmation". However, the Ennis et al abstract [1] says "We were not able to confirm the previously reported large effects of homeopathic histamine dilutions on basophil function of the examined donor."

Does the actual Ennis paper contradict the abstract? If not, our text should be "Tests in other laboratories did not confirm the reported effects." Sandy Harris 00:33, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

My cursory look seems to make me think we have the wrong abstract linked to the statement. D. Matt Innis 03:30, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, we did. I've made the correction to the proper PubMed article. Thanks Sandy! D. Matt Innis 03:38, 17 May 2010 (UTC)


I took a crack at a complete rewrite of the article, producing something I consider more rational and balanced. I think my version should replace what we now have. Comment solicited.

My version is at User_talk:Sandy_Harris/MoW. Sandy Harris 12:57, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Good work, Sandy. I like the way you re-arranged the work and consider it more concise and understandable. I'd consider it an improvement to what we have today simply from a perspective of flow. It certainly doesn't seem to change any of the meaning while improving readability. Again, good work. D. Matt Innis 13:39, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

A more recent source

In 2003 the Suisse chemist Louis Rey (Lausanne) published results claiming results by thermoluminiscence methods. (New Scientist, June 14, 2003), contradicting results in "Nature" (Vol. 434, p. 199). (German source (FAZ) [2] --Peter Schmitt 14:43, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Weirdness of waves

The current article has "... "Digital Biology", which is based on the assumption that molecules emit electromagnetic radiation in the frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz". Wait a minute! That is a plausible frequency range for sound, but electromagnetic? c is about 300,000 km/s so the wavelengths for those frequencies are 15 to 15,000 kilometers. This strikes me as distinctly implausible.

The first reference Google gives me has "The natural resonant frequencies of molecules of water and organic substances are within the far-infrared (FIR) wave frequencies (wavelength of 5 to 15 microns)". Sandy Harris 15:36, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Just as a note, extremely low frequencies, around 60 kHz, are indeed used to communicate with submerged submarines. Yes, the antenna arrays are immense, and not as large as the Navy wanted to build. I also note that the bandwidth of such signals is extremely slow; they are essentially used to say "stick up a satellite antenna for the details." Howard C. Berkowitz 23:52, 26 August 2010 (UTC)


At a first reading I think you've done a great job here. Two small issues: the first one, minor and picky, is that there really can be no "pure water" in the real world if by this we mean not even one molecule of a contaminant. The homeopathic remedies contain no molecules of the substance that they diluted, but will contain many molecules of other things.

The second issue is with the end; "As Benveniste's description of his experiments is too vague to even begin thinking about trying to reproduce them, and as his theory is not only primitive and underdeveloped, but also in complete contradiction to the well-established principles of molecular spectroscopy, it is fair to call Digital Biology a pseudoscience."

Actually I think it's fairer to call it rubbish. But I think this last sentence has three problems for me as a summary,

1) "digital biology" is now a term used increasingly frequently with a quite different and respectable meaning - [3] [4] to describe information processing in natural systems

2) it doesn't express the key reason for ignoring Benveniste. His theory is that electromagnetic vibrations are "signals exchanged among molecules" that are used by living things to convey information. For biologists, he is proposing an implausible solution to a problem that simply doesn't exist unless you accept the contested outcome of experiments at ultrahigh dilutions. We have enough real problems to address without constructing imagined ones

3) personally I'd prefer to avoid the term pseudoscience. For me there is a good use of this term - when people deliberately and dishonestly try to make something falsely appear scientific in order to give it undeserved credibility. Honest error or naive error doesn't deserve this - Benveniste's is just bad science. Gareth Leng 08:57, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

I assume the above is comment on my rewrite (User_talk:Sandy_Harris/MoW), not on the article as it stands. I've made changes based on your comments.
Should the rewrite replace the current article? That was my intent, but I do not want to make a major change in a controversial area without editor OK. Sandy Harris 13:28, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I think your rewrite is better.Gareth Leng 10:45, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

That makes two of us, Sandy. Go ahead and replace the current version with your version. D. Matt Innis 12:54, 6 June 2010 (UTC)
done! Sandy Harris 13:41, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

Digital biology

I believe the Digi Bio part is too much to accept even for homeopaths and so I suggest it's deletion. Anyway it doesn't seem to have a direct relationship with the memory of water.—Ramanand Jhingade 09:40, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Frankly, homeopaths being embarrassed by once top-flight scientists believing they can transmit the memory of water down the telephone line is no reason to remove it. Any and all research on the topic by Benveniste seems fair game for this article. –Tom Morris 11:09, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it needs to be here. Should it be a sub-section under Beneveniste, rather than a section on its own? Sandy Harris 03:59, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Sandy, I truly believe it belongs to a section we can name, "Criticism of Benveniste", which we can put in the article about his biography. I'm going to be bold (like Larry says) and delete that section from here in another 24 hours.—Ramanand Jhingade 15:32, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I went ahead and moved it, making it a subsection of the Benveniste discussion. Sandy Harris 00:33, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Sandy, I truly believe it belongs to a section we can name, "Criticism of Benveniste", which we can put in the article about his biography (not in this article). It doesn't seem to have a direct relationship with the memory of water. Benveniste's studies about the Human basophil degranulation have been replicated successfully by others and I hope you can mention them in this article (if not I'll do it when I have time).—Ramanand Jhingade 15:36, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Going into details here may indeed be too much. But these claims should be mentioned here -- they relate to his scientific seriosity. --Peter Schmitt 16:15, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I never said that what he said about Digital Biology should not be put in a Citizendium article, I'm just saying that it belongs to a section we can name, "Criticism of Benveniste", which we can put in the article about his biography (not in this article). It doesn't seem to have a direct relationship with the memory of water.—Ramanand Jhingade 16:34, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
And I have said that they have to be mentioned in this article, too, though briefly, because they characterize the scientific position of Benviste. So please restore my two sentences! --Peter Schmitt 17:15, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't want to see a revert war, but let me a reminder that the idea is that substantial deletions are discussed first on the talk page. If there is no consensus, Editor guidance is needed, Constable-enforced if necessary. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:22, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Emoto: informal personal website cited

On checking the website, it's an informal slide presentation of his own experiments, without any external review, statistical analysis, or anything that would seem to characterize a reasonable encyclopedic reference. Let me put it in these terms: I do believe that there will be, in the future, a place here for carefully presented original research, but if Emoto were a Citizen, I doubt this work would be rigorous enough to qualify. I recommend deletion. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:19, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

My concern is that his crystals are of water with impurities in it from different taps and sources around the world. This type of experiment is not unusual and the results not unexpected. A crystal formation from any pure substance is going to be more geometric. Impurities attach themselves to molecules and essentially distort the crystal. This is what makes pure gems so valuable. Emoto's work doesn't appear to have anything to do with diluting these sources with distilled water until nothing is in them, which is what I assume is the essence of 'memory of water'. The true experiment for homeopathic remedies would be to see if a 50X solution of a remedy looks any different than pure water. I don't see that discussion in Emotos's work, but I might be missing something. If it doesn't, then it does not belong in this article. D. Matt Innis 21:00, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
This topic reminds of Ormus ... Still, since Emoto claims that the pictures depend on the words, pictures, etc. presented to the water it is certainly some "memory" of which he is talking. As for the different sources of water: It would not be a surprise if the shape of crystals depends on impurities. Two links: [5] and [6]. --Peter Schmitt 21:22, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree it looks like Ormus all over again, but at least Ormus is in an article about Ormus. We have to ask ourselves if this has anything to do with the article Memory of water or something totally different. Are we using 'memory of water' as only a homeopathic term? If so, we don't explain it as including emotions and words. If not, then we need to rewrite the first paragraph. I'm not thinking that homeopaths talk to their remedies.
Peter, in your search, did you see anything that suggested that a crystal formed by saying the word "love" was repeatable? How do we know that it just wasn't the quality of the water? If they said "hate" to the same water, would the crystal look any different? D. Matt Innis 21:41, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Matt, I frequently talk to my computer, but it does have a memory. Seriously, you raise a good point: is this just about water and homeopathy? Would it be appropriate to retitle the article to reflect that, "Homeopathy and the Memory of Water" (or reverse it)?
Apropos Ormus, and, for that matter, Aleta's recent and eloquent comment on the Forums, is there a point at which we say this is simply another approach to advocacy? Howard C. Berkowitz 22:23, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Matt, in the link to the talk provided by Ramanand you see how pictures are presented to water: "First we showed an image of dolphins. Just as you see, we leave the water on top of the image for at least 24 hours." And then "Next is an elephant with long trunk." and "This is the result. You can see the trunk in the crystal."
It is, of course, no surprise that there is no indication that such results could be reproduced under controlled conditions. To me it is quite obvious that the differences are due to chemical and physical differences, and outer conditions. And that the pictures are chosen selectively.
As long as the title is "Memory of water" I think this should be mentioned -- it postulates some esoteric memory of water. It may be out of place in homeopathic context. (It still could be, because the homeopath has certain intentions when he prepares his dilutions.) It postulates much more than homeopathy does -- no great surprise when you look at Ramanand's activities, if I may say so. --Peter Schmitt 23:28, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
We are in a catch 22 where Emoto's work and Homeopathy have things in common; Emoto's concept suggests that water has a system that memorizes something (a picture or a word) and homeopathy suggests that water memorizes something that is no longer there (a chemical that was once there). I think it is safe to say that both are still unproven and not considered plausible by those that study the properties of water. From those standpoints the two could be discussed alongside of each other. If this is the way that we should handle it, then we need to rewrite the first paragraph to address that this is not just a homeopathic concept, even though homeopaths would probably see Emoto's work as another form of proof that supports what they believe.
If we were to rename this article to Homeopathy and the memory of water, creating another article for Emoto's work is definitely original research that would need some Editorial Council guidance before it could find a place here. At least leaving it in this article can allow it be addressed in context with all the other concepts that depend on water having a quality that is considered implausible by chemists. D. Matt Innis 04:56, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I also checked the website, and found this:

So where is the solution to the problem of global warming in this book? Well, because it shows that we can extract energy out of water. For example, the crystal photograph on the cover is shining beautifully. This is a result of when the cameraman and the water resonated.

And light is energy itself. Therefore, this book is a proof that energy can be extracted not only from fire, but from water.

Global warming happened because we kept on using energy from coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear atoms, all forms of fire. As long as we use fire, we will eventually not be able to live on earth. And I found an energy source that will replace this fire.

It appears to me the guy is an obvious crackpot and should not be discussed or cited in this article. I doubt he is well enough known to get his own article either. Sandy Harris 10:27, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

It does sound fishy :) The fact that he markets his concept as a solution to global warming seems a giant leap to me. But, if we remain objective, whether the guy is a crackpot is not the issue. The issue is whether his work has merit. Just because he explains his concepts in eastern lingo does not mean we should automatically discount it. These descriptions have served the eastern world well for thousands of years and many may be scientifically valid. In other words, what they categorize as fire or earth or water may be observations that their collective greatest minds have made over the millenium to describe how things behave (before there were microscopes). We, on the other hand, have since found that the periodic table helps us predict chemical qualities better. Consider that all the compounds that he notes are from the fire category, are carbon based (well, except for nuclear). Though his words are different, his solution is along the same lines as western thought - develop a fuel that is not carbon based. In this case, he is suggesting that his experiments show that water can be used as a fuel. I think anything with a chemical bond can be used as a fuel, but the question is whether it is feasible or efficient to do so.
It would be nice if one of our chemists could give us the status of that possibility. Like you, I'm betting it's not very likely. That part certainly has little to do with memory of water — homeopathy or not. D. Matt Innis 12:55, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Matt, I recently met a Japanese Reiki master who told me about Emoto and he certainly believes that water has a memory. In the East, we tend to believe something if it works, instead of being too skeptical. I hope we can keep the section on Emoto here - as a compromise, you can criticize, condemn and complain about it in the article (and here) as much as you like.—Ramanand Jhingade 15:24, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I'd be satisfied to just get the presentation right, which would certainly include the chemists perspective. I'm thinking they'd consider it somewhere between the realm of nonsense and pseudoscience at this point. D. Matt Innis 20:52, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Matt, as to fuels -- the basic chemical criterion is that a useful fuel-consuming reaction releases more energy than it takes in (i.e., it's exothermic). That certainly doesn't need carbon; the most energenic chemical rocket propulsion system uses hydrogen with fluorine. Of course, that particular combination has other problems, but it still might someday be used in an upper stage.
Ramanand, whether or not something is customary in the East, this is an English-language encyclopedia, and, I daresay, tends to reflect a western viewpoint. The singular of anecdote not being data, I personally tried a few reiki sessions. I definitely felt something, but I can in no way consider that worthy of citation for efficacy, or even that it wasn't in my mind. In like manner, anecdotes -- and this is all Emoto presents -- don't belong here. There's not enough substance in them to argue. --Howard C. Berkowitz 04:32, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
CZ allows all viewpoints and if I provide a reference, you must allow it to remain here.—Ramanand Jhingade 15:05, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
First, Ramanand, please provide a reference to even current policy that it allows all viewpoints, and, further, with equal emphasis. I think you will have trouble finding that. I will admit that this has not been clear enough and needs more precision by the future Editorial Council.
There is little question in my mind that a relevant Workgroup Editor could simply say something has inadequate support and doesn't belong in the article. While the Chemistry Editors are not physical chemists, since Emoto's claims do include mental emphasis on water, perhaps it would be appropriate to add the Psychology Workgroup. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:15, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
"Matt, I recently met a Japanese Reiki master who told me about Emoto and he certainly believes that water has a memory." So what? I've met people who think the earth is flat and that 9/11 was a secret plot by the Jews. Just because someone says something doesn't mean it isn't nonsense.
"In the East, we tend to believe something if it works, instead of being too skeptical". We do that the world over. But to know whether something works or not, you kind of need to be skeptical. We call it science.
Should content about Emoto be here? I don't really think it shouldn't. It is about as reasonable as most memory of water nonsense. His New Age crank credentials seem to be confimed by this lovely website: Ocean of Gratitude Cruise 2007. You can go and listen to him explain how water can remember photographs that have been rubbed on them, then listen to some life coaches explain how the Universe is one giant vending machine that you can order things up from - and they'll tell you how if you just get your credit card out. –Tom Morris 17:20, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


Ramanand, I find some of your edits here distinctly problematic. I hasten to add that I am not an editor in any workgroup and not at all an expert in this area. I am merely commenting on textual issues.

For example, you added "Healers who practice Reiki, Pranic healing, Qi Gong, the Silva Method[1] and so on can program water to heal a person, even many days after the healer has programmed the water and is personally unavailable." The word "can" strikes me as wildly inappropriate. "claim to", or some construction of the form "According to ..., healers can ", would be OK, but Citizendium should not be flatly asserting such a claim.

Also, I think your claim is far too broad. I doubt all Reiki healers do this and I know most Qi Gong practioners do not. Such claims need both qualifiers like "some" and supporting citations. Sandy Harris 02:43, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

I have made edits that I see as "fixing" these problems. Comment solicited. Sandy Harris 02:44, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Much better, Sandy. D. Matt Innis 03:03, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, I'll try to find what I can on the Internet. Can y'all go through, "" and "" and tell me if we can mention their contents somewhere in the article?—Ramanand Jhingade 14:05, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Some comment from the first site, apparently from an individual -- this certainly needs comment from a Psychology Editor:
They demonstrate that ALL of Nature responds to pain, the emotion of love or hate and has ‘memory/consciousness’ which can be shared across the species barrier. Backster demonstrated plants could identify a ‘murderer’; Sauvin, how he could control a model aeroplane by transmitting his thoughts to a plant; Vogel, that plants with fleshy leaves and a high water content were easiest to communicate with and influence; how rock music proved detrimental to the well being of living matter, whilst classical music proved beneficial; how radio waves were used to relieve farmers crops of unwanted pests…
"Likewise, if we were daft enough to use a hair drier in the bath and inadvertently drop it into the water, we would be electrocuted because water stores and shares the electricity with us; it is a wonderful conductor of electricity/energy/information." Hmmm...a bath of distilled, deionized water, and one just got into the bath and didn't have time to provide ions? What's the conductance of water under such circumstances?
Further, it says (My emphasis "...DNA lies in the centre of every living cell and is surrounded by water (intracellular fluid). DNA is composed of Light and emits photons (called biophotons in biological systems) – particles/waves of light/energy that contain information/instructions – which are transmitted to the biophysical aspect of our cell through our intracellular fluid", then suggests this "light" is transmitted outside the cell.
Where does RNA fit into all this? How about cytokines and hormones?
Looking at the second site, the introduction isn't terrible, in journalistic terms. It has to be considered a private blog without review, which doesn't necessarily disqualify it from CZ -- in the secret operations area, it's often necessary to correlate bits and pieces in various blogs, and then to put a plausibility rating on them.
I am concerned, however, with its link to "spherical waves" [7], which seems to reject quantum mechanical ideas, make the comment that Einstein didn't really understand, and goes back to Huygens for wave behavior. As in many things, physics can be described more simply in the midrange scale. Newtonian kinematics works decently for non-relativistic speeds. Huygens is still relevant to camera lens design.
Much more caution, however, is required at the atomic and subatomic levels. Now, are any of these ideas described in a peer-reviewed journal or conference, or perhaps a book or journal known to go through a publisher that does serious review? --Howard C. Berkowitz 16:15, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I was planning to use the 2nd web-site to defend Benveniste, but thought it would be better to discuss things on the Talk pg. to avoid an edit war. I'd like to see what Peter, Matt and Sandy have to say.—Ramanand Jhingade 16:27, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Hayford's edit/addition

Hayford, you added this sentence:-
These alternative healers, however, do not make molecular arguments, but focus on the effects of energies, generated by people, on water. "The effects of Pranic Healing are hard to corroborate because the transfer of energy is inevitably subjective. However, researchers have attempted to bring Pranic healing into the research light... Dr. Hazel Wardha along side internationally recognized researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto".

It doesn't make sense, so can you please edit it to make sense?—Ramanand Jhingade 15:16, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Original research -- Matt's comments

Yes, Matt, there's a possibility of original research or synthesis here. The choices are to suspend such lines, perhaps working on them in other than mainspace, and wait for EC guidance -- or at least to focus. You wrote,
If we were to rename this article to Homeopathy and the memory of water, creating another article for Emoto's work is definitely original research that would need some Editorial Council guidance before it could find a place here. At least leaving it in this article can allow it be addressed in context with all the other concepts that depend on water having a quality that is considered implausible by chemists.

But the article started out as dealing with homeopathy and the memory of water, and now is taking all manner of sidetracks. Unless there's a well-established link between reiki and homeopathy, aren't we going off in a distracting direction? Does not the same apply to pranic healing? Never mind whether it's original research or not; it's a question of relevance in writing.

You yourself said on May 1, ""Memory of water" is a homeopathic phrase (unless you think another field uses this term) and, though it has some science behind it (albeit questionable), the flaws prevent it from being taken seriously."

Regrettably, I'm finding herrings of various colors being raised in a defense variously of homeopathy, of both complementary and alternative medicine, and western vs. eastern thinking. I'd note that Sandy has first-hand experience dealing with both Western and Eastern thinking and may have insights. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:27, 6 September 2010 (UTC)


I do not think the herrings belong in the lede. I'd say it needs re-organisation along the lines:

  1. intro
  2. Benveniste
  3. other scientists
  4. other healers
  5. homoeopathy

Any comments, or should I just change it? Sandy Harris 22:33, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

If there are surplus white or silver herrings (sour cream or wine marinade), send them my way. Tomato sauce doesn't seem to work as well.
The question remains, I think, about whether the other healing disciplines belong here at all. Whether one agrees with it or not, there's something of a symmetry between homeopaths' explanations of how their remedies work, remedies of which water is a generally essential part, and the explanations of memory of water. If a reiki or pranic healer does something to water, but doesn't use that "charged" water in therapy, isn't that getting off track?
Please help me get the image from my mind of erasing the memory of water -- I keep thinking of the witch, in the Wizard of Oz, screaming "I'm melting". Loss of memory? Howard C. Berkowitz 22:40, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
Since the title of this page is "Memory of water" all relevant claims should be summarized here, while more detailed treatment (if at all -- probably only for homeopathy) should be left to separate pages. As for Emoto (and other pseudoscientific claims) my view is that they should be mentioned (with clear statements, of course). Their theories are present (online and in print). If some user sees them and happens to know and judge CZ as a "reliable source" he should find information here. --Peter Schmitt 23:38, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
A real answer won't emerge until the Editorial Council addresses it, but I fear there is a difference between the Emoto-type material that stands virtually no scrutiny, and things where some level of attempt at controlled research was done. Perhaps a fair compromise is to send Emoto to Memory of water/External Links, with a comment that it has no appreciable scientific comment. The user will still find the reference on search, not just in the article page. --Howard C. Berkowitz 23:49, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
Why are you so opposed to mentioning such a claim? It obviously exists, can be found, and is believed by some (many?) people. You do not make it disappear by ignoring it. This does help nobody. The honest and correct way to handle it: Mention it (briefly), and explain its status. This may help some. --Peter Schmitt 00:05, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
Perusing the index of one of the Johns Hopkins textbooks of pediatrics, the entry, "Birds, for the, pp. 1-1999" may be found. I'm the last to accuse of timidity, but I also don't want to see articles be bloated. Putting it into the external links does not hide it.
"Status: impossible for experts to evaluate because no reproducible experiments, statistics, or anything reminiscent of objective information is present."
I go to references to find the important information on something; I don't want my time wasted with lunacy. Emoto makes homeopathy sound like the most rigid analytical chemistry.
Theories exist that the moon is made of green cheese, the earth is flat, and that if it appears on television, it must be true. I will not waste my time, or that of others, with it. I will continue to object to time and effort spent on fringe topics when it seems impossible to get a flow or copy edit on an article on a mainstream topic. My vision of Citizendium does not include debunking fringe issues, and I will not yield on that point. You do whatever you want, but I will always object to more coverage of fringe than can be minimized. Seriously, the amount of interest in fringe makes me question my participation in Citizendium.
Even though it was in the edit note, I observe that you may be the first person that called me timid. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:49, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
Calling a certain policy timid does not imply that its supporters are timid. --Peter Schmitt 12:13, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Memory of ethanol

While it is my personal observation that ethanol tends to make one forget, besides that some homeopaths have linked it to their remedies, could someone either explain why it is in this article at all, or agree to remove it?

Water does have some unusual properties in physical chemistry. The molecular properties of ethanol, however, are entirely different, and less remarkable. Does ethanol form complexes such as clanthrates?

Now, if someone wanted to give a referenced claim that ethanol acts to help make water "aware" of relatively water-insoluble compounds, that might be an argument for having it here. Otherwise, other than uisqebaugh being the "water of life", ethanol doesn't belong here. If there's an argument for memory of ethanol, make it there -- and then why ethanol, not also methanol, n-propanol and 2-propanol, propane diols and triols, etc., before moving on to 4-carbon chains. --Howard C. Berkowitz 01:35, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

The article had "aqueous (water-based)" at one point. Ramanand added "or ethanol-based" inside the brackets which I deleted as nonsense. It then went through some other changes to land where it is. Apparently R wants ethanol mentioned because some homeopathic remedies use an alcohol solvent. I think he is wrong; it should revert to "aqueous (water-based)". Sandy Harris 02:46, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
It sounds, then, if the article is drifting. My assumption would be that it is about the memory of water as a basis for homeopathic remedies, not about homeopathic remedies in general.
Certainly, there could well be remedies where the simillum is fairly insoluble in water but not in ethanol, so it is first dissolved in ethanol, and the tincture (i.e., solution in ethanol) is then mixed in water, and potentiated as desired. The alcohol here is simply acting as a means of dispersing the simillum molecules in water, where memory of water effects then presumptively take place -- but the alcohol has nothing to do with them.
It doesn't sound as if there is any memory of ethanol. Recently, I had to make a dilute solution of a plant hormone that is insoluble in water at a neutral pH. I dissolved the solid in 1-normal sodium hydroxide solution, and then diluted that several times with neutral water. Is there a memory of sodium hydroxide in that? I didn't think so. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:10, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
There is, though, a term for memory of ethanol: hangover. --Howard C. Berkowitz 03:11, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
This is another reason why homeopathic dilutions should be treated in a separate article. --Peter Schmitt 12:10, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

(undent) There are, actually, reasons for several separate articles. Splitting off several subordinate subjects might also simplify the main homeopathy model. A tentative list:

  • Preparation of homeopathic remedies. Dilutions and succussion, but also such things as starting the water dilution from an alcoholic tincture rather than a directly water-soluble simillium. Observe there already is an article on homeopathic provings; having a brief note and a link would not be a new precedent.
  • Memory of water, strictly as it relates to reasonably common discussion of mechanisms actions of homeopathy. That means that suppositions that come from other than practicing homeopaths, be they telephone transmission or Emoto style spiritual changes inwater, do not belong in this article. Keep it focused.

In general, use separate articles to avoid drift and marginally relevant topics in articles, articles that rapidly become bloated. I constantly reexamine articles in other areas that I write to consider when the detailed discussion should move to its own article, leaving an introduction and link in the main article.

This article is confusing in the range of topics it addresses.

As an aside, it might be useful to have at least lemmas on traditional terms that, at least to some extent, are used in homeopathic, pharmaceutical, and even herbal preparation work. A tincture, for example, is defined as an ethanol solution. Adjuvants may be needed to get things to dissolve in particular solvents (e.g., for Lugol's Solution, iodine cystals won't dissolve in water but will dissolve in an aqueous potassium iodide solution). Creams and ointments are different -- creams have water-soluble bases while ointments are in oil or otherwise less penetrating bases. Pills, tablets and capsules are different forms, with subtypes (actually, pills are probably obsolete in most cases). Howard C. Berkowitz 12:36, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

  • Other odd water theories like Emoto.


I removed "rare" from basophil, lest that suggest the presence of basophils, in typical numbers, is in any way unusual. When doing a manual visual white cell differential count, I have been known to stop when I see a basophil, but that's mostly to appreciate it -- treated with Wright's Stain, it's visually very striking.

A mast cell is essentially a non-circulating basophil, or, if you will, a basophil is a circulating mast cell. Both are highly granular, when they degranulate, release inflammatory mediators such as histamine. Benveniste's method reasonably should affect both types of cell.

It might be interested to do his experiments on cells that have and have not been treated with cromolyns, or other degranulation inhibitors. --Howard C. Berkowitz 03:24, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

What is diluted water?

--Paul Wormer 08:09, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, Paul. Corrected. Did the original study indeed deal also with ethanol and propanol? The link to DigBio is broken. --Peter Schmitt 10:08, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
I believe it did. Certainly older versions of this article said it did. It is in my rewrite of a couple of months back User_talk:Sandy_Harris/MoW, and I got it from the text I was rewriting. One version included criticism of homeopaths for ignoring those parts of Benveniste's work. Sandy Harris 11:06, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
Diluted water sounds like a perfectly logical homeopathic remedy for thirst. :-) Howard C. Berkowitz 21:32, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

Benveniste and different liquids

Can we keep the main article focused on water? Even if Benveniste did mention ethanol and propanol, that's going off in a different direction of physical organic chemistry.

It's misleading just to say "propanol". The single-hydroxyl alcohol of propane (i.e., 3 carbon atoms) has two isomers, n-propanol and iso-propanol (1-propanol and 2-propanol if you prefer). They are different chemicals with different behaviors.

Finding consistency is hard enough when the discussion is limited to H2O. Non-water solvents, Emoto, etc., in my opinion, belong in a subarticle, unless we simply want to define this article as a catchall for all assertions, some of which might have bare scientific support and others that would call for a new physical chemistry.

A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism.Howard C. Berkowitz 17:57, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

I agree that this page -- according to its title -- should be restricted to water (but all variations of claimed memory effects). But if the Beneviste study treated more general dilutions then this should be stated when citing it. --Peter Schmitt 22:06, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
What about a subarticle on the Benveniste article, to which the non-water solvent material can be moved? It's not a question of more general dilutions, but of solvents. Perhaps Milt or David Volk can chip in, as I never took formal physical organic chemistry. I did take physical chemistry of proteins, that being my boss' course. Still, it strikes me as increasingly implausible that there should be an esoteric property shared among these very different solvents. Did Benveniste consider methanol? Howard C. Berkowitz 22:15, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
Like Peter said, 'all variations of claimed memory effects' should be mentioned here. I liked the separate headings/sections for Louis Rey, Luc Montagnier and Masaru Emoto, can we reintroduce the separate headings/sections for them please? They are notable people!—Ramanand Jhingade 16:25, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
I would hesitate to reintroduce those headings, if the emphasis then turns from their findings to their personalities and reputations. While that would be quite appropriate were this an article on politics, there is danger, in a "technical" discussion, of appeals to authority rather than elicitation of observed, and preferably reproducible, experiments. Montqagnier, for example, is an extremely distinguished scientist, who was dignified in the scientific equivalent of armed robbery, and fully deserved his Nobel Prize -- but a prize that was given for work quite different than physical biochemistry. Further, Montagnier's work in this area was not of the intensity, extensive peer review, etc., that makes him unquestioned in HIV virology. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:18, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
I think that this article should list claims in historical sequence, with the name of the major proponent (and the year?) as (sub)heading. It gives the article a clear structure, and listing a claim may not be interpreted as supporting the claim. That some proponents have a reputation is a fact and a valid information. (There are also famous mathematicians who have published flawed results.) The descriptions should be brief, longer discussions -- if at all -- should take place on separate pages. The Emoto section (the quotes) is too long now, I think. --Peter Schmitt 23:29, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Peter, I second your opinion and suggest you introduce those changes.—Ramanand Jhingade 15:26, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Basic question of article scope

"These alternative healers, however, do not make molecular arguments, but focus on the effects of energies". I think it's a bad writing practice to get away from the original concept of the article, which were some molecular observations as they might explain homeopathic effects.

There's nothing wrong with having a top-level article of nontraditional health interactions with water, and then put the homeopathically oriented subarticle one level down, and a second one dealing with the energy-based interactions. I'd note that the NCCAM taxonomy for CAM differentiates between homeopathy and energy-based therapies.

Stay focused. Spawn subarticles and super-articles. This is, after all, hypertext where wikilinks work (well, most of the time). Howard C. Berkowitz 19:47, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

The "original concept" is defined by the title. It is not restricted to molecular arguments, it includes all purported "physical" memory properties of water. Claimed healing effects are another topic. (By the way, as far as I know many homeopathic dilutions are only moderately diluted so that it is not necessary to assume a memory effect.) --Peter Schmitt 23:38, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Strongly disagree. There is an article, war. It doesn't try to address all ramifications and variations inside that water.
Sorry, the title also is generally used with Benveniste and his molecular memory. The Emoto, the non-homeopathic energy therapies, are not part of what is more or less the "literature" of memory of water. Good research writing does not bring in every fragmentary thing that might relate. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:42, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
A poor argument, War is only a stub. And as a "top-level" article it certainly should give an overview.
Since at present no one knows for sure if water has a memory, and consequently no one has -- can have -- a confirmed theory how it works the top-level article cannot concentrate on one of these claims. But it can compare them and say what is least improbable. --Peter Schmitt 00:01, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

(undent) This is going nowhere. I believe an Editor Ruling is needed, probably from Chemistry or Health Sciences. I do not think a Healing Arts Editor really should be ruling on physical biochemistry.

Least improbable? I find none to even be slightly probable. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:19, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

There is always a least improbable. It is not the issue here to defend unproven or disproven claims. It is about informing about existing claims regardless how silly they are. This is a general question, it does not concern Chemistry or Health Sciences alone. Of course, the experts have to take care that no nonsense is told. --Peter Schmitt 10:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Again, I disagree. This isn't going to be settled between the two of us and I'm not going to continue a discussion going nowhere. If a consensus emerges, or there is an Editor ruling, I'll again work on this article, which I consider as important as homeopathy. I'll keep the article on my watchlist for now, but I'm not going to continue an argument shows no sign of resolving. It's clear my efforts are better spent elsewhere. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:42, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Howard: I agree with your last comment. Moreover, for me too this article is of very low priority. I am only interested in a consistent general policy of sound information on pseudoscience and "fringe", and this is better discussed in a general forum. --Peter Schmitt 10:52, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
There is no general forum with authority, especially under the new charter, unless we take it to the remaining members of the Editorial Council. Editors could make a ruling on the point of keeping the article focused versus scattered, interpreting the scope of the article.
It would seem most appropriate, then, to freeze the article until either a decision is made to put it to the old or new EC. General discussions on an article talk page do not resolve anything. Personally, I'd say it made much more sense to get an interim Editor ruling, but if one is more concerned about policy and it is questionable if a policy organization now exists, lock the article. If nothing else, it's a distraction while institutions are formed. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:48, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Currently there is neither a reason to lock the article nor a reason to call for an Editor ruling. And, of course, while the EC to be established has to decide policy eventually, pending policy decisions have to be discussed openly with all Citizens, e.g., in a Forum thread or on talk pages. --Peter Schmitt 17:19, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Any Citizen always has the right to call for an Editor Ruling. Have you become a Constable or an Editor in a relevant workgroup? If not, you have no right to tell me what I have reasons to do, or not do.
Further, my understanding of the Charter is while EC matters must be discussed among the EC members in a transparent way, and there certainly can and should be Citizen comment, there is no requirement for two-way discussion with all Citizens. That defeats the purpose of a representative body, and instead both becomes direct democracy and is not scalable. Courts call witnesses; they don't have to get presentations from anyone with an interest. If your statement is upheld, I will leave Citizendium. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:23, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
I am entitled to state my opinion just as you are. Do I always have to prefix it with "I think" or "in my opinion"? Stating my opinion does not imply that I try to tell you what you have to think. --Peter Schmitt 23:07, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Regarding the second part of your comment ("my view"): The Charter may not explicitly require it, but while the EC is ultimately responsible for content policy, general policy has to be discussed openly -- how else "Citizen comment" can be obtained? Or do you want to allow only "invited" comments? In any case: This part of our discussion does not belong on a special talk page but on a place (forum) where others can comment. --Peter Schmitt 23:18, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

(undent) Peter, if you were to decide to call for an Editor ruling in any article, I would not say that you should not do it, because you are exercising a right. I might say I disagree, but I no longer have a role in that interaction--it's between you and the Editor(s).

At least in American English, if you don't preface something with the comment it is an opinion, it easily can be interpreted as an order. As you phrased it, it did not appear to be an option.

To paraphrase an American idiom such that it passes professional language, "Opinions are like noses. Everyone has one." I try, and do not always succeed, to insert my opinion only when it may have an effect on the matter at hand. Telling me you disagree with the call is unlikely to make me withdraw it. It would be potentially more useful to voice that opinion when and if an Editor ecomes involved. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:34, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Howard, may I observe that you, too, do not always preface your statements. Are these all orders? --Peter Schmitt 23:42, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

The ultimate authority for this article

My physical chemistry professor: Dr. Paul Waters. --Howard C. Berkowitz 22:19, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

It has been demonstrated

This is an interesting finding that needs some scientific evaluation before we make this assertion without comment, so I have removed it for now:

  • It has been demonstrated that extreme homeopathic dilutions retain the starting materials, sometimes in nanoparticulate form (ref) D. Matt Innis 17:43, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
It does not belong in the lede, but a more neutrally worded version should likely go into the "other scientists" section. Sandy Harris 02:04, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
I hope one of you can do that then!—Ramanand Jhingade 17:09, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
  1. The Le Monde article actually called it the "La mémoire de la matière" (the memory of matter) and not "La mémoire de l'eau" (the memory of water), that popularized the phrase.

Usefulness of references

In general, I don't think citing newspaper articles that refer to journal articles or to dissertations are useful, certainly when they don't have links to the primary information. Without the primary information, there's no way for a reviewer to judge quality.

Further, references where only the abstract is available free, as in the Indian Institute of Technology cite, are a problem. We have Citizens that can go much more deeply than taking it on faith that electron spin resonance was used properly. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:25, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

I only wanted to rewrite the claim and reformat the references. I would move the paper to the Bibliography and omit the newspaper reference. But to be consistent, this would require more changes and rewrites which (at least now) I am not prepared to begin. --Peter Schmitt 18:05, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

French Nobelist on the Memory of Water

It is interesting that some people here prefer to seek out any possible criticism or skepticism of homeopathy and the memory of water, and yet, when a very positive article is published in the one of the leading scientific journals in the world ("Science"), it is ignored. I hope this fact gives us all time to consider this bias. At present, I will try to avoid edit articles themselves but instead will provide important information and high quality references. I will be curious if this strategy actually leads to the improvement of the article.

In a truly remarkable interview recently published in SCIENCE magazine, Dr. Luc Montagnier (French virologist who won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the AIDS virus) describes his newest work that has significant implications on homeopathy. Montagnier makes the following strong statement for homeopathy and homeopathic doses: "I can't say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules."

Montagnier also asserted, "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."

Further, Montagnier refers to Dr. Jacques Benveniste, a French physician/scientist who conducted research on homeopathic doses, as a "modern Galileo."

Reference: Science 24 December 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6012 p. 1732 DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6012.1732 Dana Ullman 17:36, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

I would like to see the original French of his statements. Hayford Peirce 00:17, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Learned, even great, people are not immune to making incorrect statements, holding erroneous beliefs, and writing fatuous books. Remember another Nobel winner, Prof. Shockley (or whoever), with his "Bell Curve" and his beliefs about blacks? And isn't there *still* a tenured biology professor at Berkeley who for 20 years has insisted that AIDS has no connection whatsoever with HIV? Hayford Peirce 00:25, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Hayford and others, the interview is not available online, except to subscribers of "Science." It is not in French! However, the 12-24-10 issue is in virtually every library in the country. It will be interesting to see how this article changes. I'm worried that this article has been taken over by people who are not objective observers. Dana Ullman 01:26, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
My concern that correlation doesn't lead to causality. Let us assume that Montagnier found effects from nucleic acids in water. It is a rather far leap from that observation to assume that it is a mechanism of action for homeopathic remedies. Just to take one example of observation/correlation not leading to causality, during the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic, many patients were found to have Hemophilus influenzae infections. For quite a few years, that was assumed to be the cause, until the virus was demonstrated and H. influenzae found to be a common secondary infection.
From what I have read of similliums (simillii?), they are rarely if ever purified macromolecules. Clanthrate and similar mechanisms could make sense for small inorganic molecules, but not for nucleic acids. He hasn't proposed anything like a general mechanism, or why it should have biological effects. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:41, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
I think that any real scientist (which I am not) or even the amateur thinker (which I consider myself) will always keep one ear on new evidence and keep an open mind as he/she awaits confirmation. I think all of the above statements have merit and none of us are close enough to the science to actually make an educated guess as to its meaning, yet. Regardless, as reporters of fact, we have to acknowledge the fact that Montagnier has made this claim and he is a nobel prize winner and so is Barack Obama. It has merit as news as we await confirmation. Whether it goes in this article or not is the matter for editors. D. Matt Innis 03:12, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Fascinating. Montagnier is coming to Shanghai Jiaotong University, which is where I work. It is one of the top universities in China. Tsinghua in Beijing gets called "China's MIT"; that would make SJTU China's Carnegie Mellon or Stanford. I'm in a different department and the place is large, 38.000 students, but I'll be keeping my ears open. Sandy Harris 03:32, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Montagnier's site has his recent publications. An attack on homeopaths' misuse of Montagnier's work is at: Sandy Harris 11:51, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Diluted water? Liquid water?

I always thought 'water' was the liquid form of H20, as opposed to the solid form, ice, and the gaseous form, vapour. What do I know?

And why isn't water linked?

And what, pray, is 'diluted water'?

This reminds me from an exchange from Ball of Fire in which someone asks a group of professors which is correct, 'Two and two is five' or 'two and two are five'? 'Two and two are five', the grammarian tells him. 'Perhaps, to an English professor,' says the maths prof, 'But to a mathematician, two and two are four!'

Aleta Curry 23:01, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't know if the product has reached Australia, but in a camping supply store in Virginia, along with the freeze-dried foods, there are cans of "dehydrated water". They were intended as joke gifts for experienced campers, but the staff told me, with some distress, that some newbie campers wanted to buy armloads to rehydrate their dehydrated food. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:36, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Ohdearohdearohdear. Talk about the power of suggestion! Aleta Curry 00:41, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Both good points, Aleta. Seems common enough sense to me that we can make that change without asking a chemist! D. Matt Innis 03:18, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Nanoparticles in extreme dilutions

Avogadro's number makes us "assume" that there is little probability of any of the original molecules in water that has been diluted 1:10 24 times (or 1:100 12 times). However, new research that was replicated several times has discovered "nanoparticles" of the original substance in solutions that have been potentized 30 or 200 times. Therefore, we have to change the lede, especially the sentence that says: "Since homeopathic remedies are deliberately extremely diluted, it is highly unlikely that a therapeutic dose contains even a single molecule of the substance being diluted."

This work was conducted by a group of scientists at the famed Indian Institutes of Technology. Reference: Chikramane PS, Suresh AK, Bellare JR, and Govind S. Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective. Homeopathy. Volume 99, Issue 4, October 2010, 231-242. The abstract of this article is online: PMID 20970092 Dana Ullman 02:26, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

I would be hesitant to overturn a core principle of physical chemistry, the interpretaion of Avogadro's number, based simply on an abstract. I would be even more hesitant to rewrite the lede until the results have been replicated at multiple independent centers, "famed" or not. I certainly would not depend on a homeopathic journal, but on major journals in physical chemistry. Individual, even well-intentioned results are not appropriate for revising established science. Can we say "Fleischmann and Pons", girls and boys? I knew we could! Howard C. Berkowitz 03:57, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Fleischmann and Pons published in conventional scientific journals. So, is Howard suggesting that we simply not believe conventional journals? I hope not. The new research doesn't break any old laws of physical chemistry; it simply extends our understanding of them by helping us understand that there may be something that happens in sequential dilitions in water solutions that are vigorously shaken.
This new study is not an abstract; it is a study. We cannot deny a study just because an editor here only has access to the abstract. Three different types of technology were used to evaluate two different medicines in 30C and 200C potencies.
At the VERY least, we should say that one might assume that there are no molecules in high potency homeopathic medicines, but new research has shown that nanoparticles of the original substance presist even in high potencies. Dana Ullman 04:41, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
I will consider denying a study if I only can read the abstract. I will certainly do so if it is a highly controversial topic.
Howard, Dana, is not suggesting we not believe conventional journals. Howard is saying that one report, not replicated elsewhere, on a fairly ill-defined topic constitutes interesting reason to look further, but certainly not proof. Howard is definitely saying that such a report does not prove homeopathy works or doesn't work, but that it doesn't show biological mechanisms.
"nanoparticles of the original substance" is confusing. Are they molecules or not? If they are, then the Avogadro limit is challenged. If they are not, what are they? What information is preserved from the molecule? Howard C. Berkowitz 04:53, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
think you're missing the point Howard. There's no challenge to physical chemistry or Avogadro's number here; the paper cited by Dana simply shows that homeopathically produced substances in fact contained traces of the original diluent. The conclusion has to be therefore that they were not in fact diluted to the claimed amount. It has always seemed likely to me that the homeopathic mode of preparation has to be extremely unreliable, and that there was the clear possibility that particulates could be conserved by particular pipetting techniques. The technique you will remember does not use direct dilution - it couldn't with such volumes, but repeated pipetting. Where this leaves the status of such solutions I don't know; I guess all that can be said is that remedies might contain variable amounts of particulate matter because of deficiencies in dilution. What is clear though is that this is an alternative to a postulated memory of water.Gareth Leng 09:37, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
As I mentioned, I haven't seen the actual paper; I made the dangerous assumption that both this paper and Montagnier's at least used standard microchemistry. From secondary reports of Montagnier's in dealing with the RF field measurement, it sounds like they were sloppy there. When, for example, I've done formal testing of LAN interfaces, anything like a radiation test was done in a Faraday cage connected to a large equipotential ground plane. If the dilutions were by traditional homeopathic methods, the dilutions would be questionable -- I might go along with multiple dilutions if the micropipettes were robotically controlled, delivery of fluid confirmed by weight before and after, etc.
If one defines "memory of water" precisely as changes in the water molecules only, yes,it's not even the same topic. Unfortunately, it's something of a moving target. Are clanthrates and nanoparticles similar? Howard C. Berkowitz 12:33, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Dana, you probably di'n't observe that that study has already been mentioned in the article. Howard, Nanoparticles are not clathrates. The IIT,B used many different companies homeopathic remedies for their study and all had the said, 'nanoparticles'. It is now working on using electron microscopes and spectrometers to measure nanoparticles in homeopathic remedies.-Ramanand Jhingade 15:07, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
(unindent)Like Dana said, can we have this matter in the Lead?-Ramanand Jhingade 16:01, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Howard; the authors of the paper cited by Dana didn't make the solutions they just tested commercially available remedies ("The homeopathic medications used for the purpose of research were obtained commercially from authorized distributors of a leading homeopathic drug manufacturer in India (SBL) and an Indian subsidiary of a multi-national homeopathic company viz. Dr. Willmar Schwabe India Pvt. Ltd."). Montagnier's problems aren't with the dilutions, but with the test system - mast cells degranulate massively and erratically if you just look at them; it's a wonderful system for false positives. Let's be clear here, if the authors of this paper are correct, there's nothing more that needs to be said about homeopathic dilutions or the memory of water - the remedies have particulates in them. This could be a very short article if this paper is accepted. Gareth Leng 17:05, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Suggeseted addition to the lede: "However, a recent study (ref) suggests that in fact homeopathic remedies may not in fact be diluted to the extent claimed. This study found detectable particulates in commercially available homeopathic remedies. Thus the method of preparation of those remedies cannot in fact have involved ultradilution at all, despite common claims. When an insoluble solid is ground and mixed with water, particulate matter will partition according to its density - some particles may float, others may sink. Accordingly, in the homeopathic manufacturing process of "serial dilution", if either the top or bottom fraction of the mixture is consistently selected, then particulate matter may be conserved. In effect, the process of preparation may "wash" particulate matter repeatedly, probably removing all soluble components, but may preserve at least some particles. If this is the case, then there seems no reason to postulate a "memory of water" to explain any claimed effects of homeopathic remedies. It is implausible however that such an erratic method of manufacture could produce a remedy of consistent composition."Gareth Leng 09:37, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

I agree that your synopsis is exactly the situation should this pan out (no pun intended). Should we consider whether, in fact, manufacturers do produce the remedies in the manner you explain before we make that assumption? D. Matt Innis 18:02, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, you are right Matt, we shouldn't add a speculation to the lede, however plausible - thanks for you cool rationality. So where does this leave us? The interesting article to which Dana alerted us gives a prosaic explanation of any effects of homeopathic remedies - i.e. contamination by particulates that survive the manufacturing process. We should perhaps take homeopathy out of this article completely and confine it to a discussion of the Bueneviste experiments. The logic is simple, if homeopathic products contain particulates then a) they are not ultradilute and b) "memory of water" is hardly relevant to any claimed effects - that is, unless it is claimed that the particulates are irrelevant. Accordingly the article on "memory of water" might best be confined to reports of a case of unrepeatable experiments on unreliable model systems that, for a while, were claimed to be able to explain the apparently inexplicable. Gareth Leng 18:22, 13 January 2011 (UTC)


Nanoparticle article started. Note that nanoparticles are specifically proposed as "intracellular reservoirs for sustained release of encapsulated therapeutic agent." In other words, if homeopathic manufacturing processes create them, they could enter cells. Whether homeopathic manufacturing produces enough to be biologically active is an open question. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:32, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

I'm not clear where you got THAT definition of nanoparticles, but it does not seem to be a common one. What I've seen is that nanoparticles are NOT just intracellular (even the wikipedia article does not limit it in the way that Howard has suggested). Dana Ullman 03:23, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Dana is not clear? Did Dana read the sources in nanoparticle, which Dana has been using as an undefined term?
Further, Dana apparently did not read the definition or lede of the article, which certainly doesn't limit that definition. A cited paper mentions their use as drug delivery systems.
My comment disagrees with Wikipedia? I am shocked! Absolutely shocked! Are you going to tell me, next, that there is gambling in Rick's Cafe? Howard C. Berkowitz
Avogadro's number is a physical statistical probability that does not take into account the properties of water or the effects of vigorous shaking. As such, homeopathy has an important place in this article because it is uses water and succussion (vigorous shaking) as a means to create a "memory in water." Just because there are nanoparticles in the water (both of the original medicine AND of the silicate fragments) does not mean that they are not a part of helping to create a memory in water (sorry for the double negatives...but hopefully you still get my point). Dana Ullman 03:38, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Following that logic, water polo must have an even more prominent place, since clearly it uses water and vigorous shaking. Does that make homeopathy an Olympic sport? Howard C. Berkowitz 03:43, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Suggested new concise lede

Memory of water is a concept used by homeopaths to explain how their remedies might have some effects, even though they have apparently been diluted far beyond the point where they should retain any active ingredients. The underlying notion is that water can somehow "remember" characteristics of molecules that it had once been in contact with. A recent study suggests that manufactured homeopathic remedies retain some particulate matter from the original sources; if this is correct then these remedies are not in fact ultradiluted at all, and have no need to "remember" anything. (ref; Chikramane PS et al. (2010) Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective Homeopathy 99:231-42 PMID 20970092)

Chemists and physicists recognised the notion of a memory of water that might survive for more than a tiny fraction of a second as nonsense. Water as a liquid is continuously rearranging hydrogen-bonded network with motions on the picosecond (10−12 s) time scale.[1] Accordingly there is no room for a water "memory" in the current scientific view.

Nice. Ro Thorpe 18:55, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

(undent) Yes, the level of linkage to homeopathy is relevant. There's a basic conflict here: traditional preparation methods versus advanced analytical chemistry; the latter doesn't assume the former. Note that in the US, homeopathic remedies are exempt from the Good Manufacturing Practices of the Food and Drug Administration.

Unless nanoparticle is precisely defined, it should not be used in argument. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:20, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Is this a better arrangement from a concept flow perspective? If not, I'm okay with the above as well.
  • Memory of water is a concept used by homeopaths to explain how their remedies might have some effects, even though they have apparently been diluted far beyond the point where they should retain any active ingredients. The underlying notion is that water can somehow "remember" characteristics of molecules that it had once been in contact with. Chemists and physicists recognised the notion of a memory of water that might survive for more than a tiny fraction of a second as nonsense. Water as a liquid is continuously rearranging hydrogen-bonded network with motions on the picosecond (10−12 s) time scale.[2] Accordingly there is no room for a water "memory" in the current scientific view. Moreover, a recent study suggests that manufactured homeopathic remedies retain some particulate matter from the original sources; if this is correct then these remedies are not in fact ultradiluted at all, and water has no need to "remember" anything. (ref; Chikramane PS et al. (2010) Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective Homeopathy 99:231-42 PMID 20970092)
D. Matt Innis 01:50, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Here's my suggestion for the lede:
Memory of water is a phrase used by homeopaths to explain how the ethanol-based and/or water-based solutions they use might produce the results that they claim to see in their patients. Homeopathic remedies are manufactured through a specific pharmacological process of serial dilution with vigorous shaking in-between each dilution. Scientists have previously presumed that the homeopathic potencies over 12C or 24X would, in all probability, contain no molecules of the original medicinal substance, new research conducted at the Indian Institute of Technology, using three different type of modern technological measurement tools, have found nanoparticles remaining even in homeopathic high potencies.[3] Some homeopaths and scientists have postulated a "memory of water"—the water somehow "remembers" the biologically active molecules that it had once been in contact with, and that "memory" then produces therapeutic effects.

Dana Ullman 03:47, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

  1. It's not unique to homeopathy. Benveniste was not and Montagnier is not a homeopath.
  2. Remove "ethanol" from the above; ethanol has been not been discussed in this article. The proper term for "memory of ethanol", I believe, is hangover.
  3. It is misleading at best to speak of "modern technological measurement tools" if the tested materials were prepared by other than modern methods -- methods with respect to reproducibility. Again, since the article is not available, there is insufficient statistical data to confirm that the preparations are consistent between batches of the same preparer.
Do you have a precise, sourced definition of nanoparticle? If not, I suggest you withdraw your complaint. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:05, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

I think there are two problems with the first suggested lede above.

  1. I do not think the Indian research belongs in the lede. It needs to be discussed in the "Other scientists" section, but it is neither sufficiently verified nor sufficiently central to the topic be in the lede.
  2. "Chemists and physicists recognised the notion .. as nonsense." Recognised? Why is it in the past tense? Also, while I think is perfectly true to say they recognise it as nonsense (that is, the idea is nonsense, and scientists can see that) I do not think that is a neutral way to put the point. My original version had "generally consider"; we might drop the "generally" and/or replace "consider" with "see", but I do not think "recognise" works.

So what I would have would be:

  • Memory of water is a concept used by homeopaths to explain how their remedies might have some effects, even though they have apparently been diluted far beyond the point where they should retain any active ingredients. The underlying notion is that water can somehow "remember" characteristics of molecules that it had once been in contact with. Chemists and physicists see this notion as nonsense. Water as a liquid is continuously rearranging hydrogen-bonded network with motions on the picosecond (10−12 s) time scale.[4] Accordingly there is no room for a water "memory" in the current scientific view. (Sandy Harris)
Good points Sandy, and I'm in agreement. The Indian study though seems to be central to the relevance of this to homeopathy. If homeopathic remedies contain particulates, and homeopaths consider this significant, then the issue of whether there is a memory of water is one that the homeopaths can be neutral on - the credibility of homeopathy doesn't rest on whether there is any such phenomenon. Accordingly homeopathy can (and should) be downplayed in this article - the concept can be analysed critically and debunked without any implications for homeopathy. The evidence for memory of water, it should be remembered, came not from studies using homeopathic remedies, or from studies using homeopathic potentiation, but from laboratory standard ultradilution - there's no way these can involve particulates (unless you imply that the French team was utterly incompetent), and they're not even obviously relevant to homeopathy as homeopaths insist that succussion is essential.
So perhaps the main body of the article should leave all mention of homeopathy to a section at the end, where it is discussed alongside the Indian study. Whether that is also alluded to in the lede can be left until any restructing is done.
My case is really that you can't talk coherently at the same time about the memory of water and about the effects of particulates in that water, it seems nonsense to try to do that.Gareth Leng 09:49, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, if we are to treat this research as accurate, then memory of water is a non-issue for homeopaths. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but it does open a whole new controversial door. D. Matt Innis 03:07, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Summary of my edits

I've gone through this now adding references and supplying references where they were absent. I've expanded the section on Montagnier, both making clear his backing for Benveniste and the problems with his work, specifically that the device that he used was tested (with the Benveniste team, and by a group led by a pro-homeopathy scientist) and found to be ineffective. I've used Sandy's lede for now, with the addition of recent reviews on water structure. I've cut the healing nonsense radically; if it stays in I think it's got to be in the context of supernatural claims for water, it certainly has nothing to do with science. I've looked at the Indian study and found a very sensible editorial in Homeopathy that makes exactly my point - that if this study is true then homeopaths like everyone else can just forget about this memory of water nonsense. I've expunged all allusions to ethanol and propanol; they are obviously nonsense - any cells exposed to anything diluted in these will just die instantly, so no claims of biological effects mediated through these solvents cannot possibly be sustainable; any mention of them is an unwarrantable extrapolation.Gareth Leng 13:21, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Generally very good, as well as Sandy's input. Dealing specifically with that, I think the lead still needs to be tweaked if the focus is on memory of water and not the inferences homeopaths have taken from it -- yet that is the very first thing mentioned. It's difficult, because I don't think Benveniste or Montagnier specifically used the term "memory of water", but they did speak to changes in water. They did speak to homeopathy, but not giving a real biological basis, more "something may be in remedies".
Since you have the paper, did the Indian team use multiple samples from the same batch and multiple batches from the same manufacturers, and check for consistency?
Renamed the "followup" so we don't have a dangling 1.1 below 1.
Unfortunately, I've only seen blog descriptions of Benveniste's test setup, but if these are correct, they didn't come close to what an electronic engineer would do for detecting extremely small signals or signal variation. When I've done conformance tests on Ethernet, the test bench was in a Faraday cage connected to an equipotential ground, the power supplies of all instruments were verified not to have AC components in their DC, and amplifiers were often duplicated for simultaneously measuring a negative control on the same bench.
I must differ slightly -- cells exposed to 25-year-old The Macallan flavored ethanol will die gently and happily. Lagavulin and Talisker similliums will give a more Dylan Thomas sort of ending: "Do not go gentle into that good night/Rage, rage at the coming of the light."
Let me try an alternate lead, which requires more thought. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:30, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
The reference to the Indian paper gives access to the full text - at least it does for me. They used multiple batches.Gareth Leng 16:14, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Remove the mention of homeopathy here

If there are nanoparticles in homeopathic remedies, even in high potencies, we should remove the mention of homeopathy here or put it somewhere at the bottom. My (homeopathic) colleagues are already talking of discarding the 'memory of water' concept.-Ramanand Jhingade 15:12, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

No, "talking of discarding" is not sufficient evidence to discard the extensive public argument that memory of water proves homeopathy works. This article would not be here at all if homeopaths hadn't been arguing for it in support. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:30, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, obviously I agree with Ramanand that the memory of water concept becomes redundant to homeopathy if there are nanoparticles in their remedies (and Peter Fisher's editorial quite rightly says that discarding the memory of water does not imply discarding homeopathy -any more than establishing that water can retain a memory would in any significant way "explain" why homeopathic remedies might be therapeutically efficacious). I agree with him that homeopathy should be downplayed, as the Benveniste experiments, which were the origin of the phrase and the source of the massive controversy, involved neither homeopathic remedies nor homeopathic processes of manufacture. Maybe downplaying is not the right term - what I mean is we should treat the issue as a strictly scientific one as far as possible without getting into its possible implications for homeopathy. At the same time I agree with Howard that we can't ignore the fact that the concept has been closely associated with homeopathy almost from the beginning. But I don't agree with Howard that it's just about homeopathy - the Nature furore, investigation, debate, and acrimony were very notable in their own right, and they were not about homeopathy at all, but about when a journal should publish results that fly in the face of what is generally accepted. I would have wanted this article here and written it without homeopath involvement - it's about a truly exceptional and controversial event in science. It's just easier to write a good article on it if it's disentangled from homeopathy - a good article won't be an attack piece on homeopathy but a critical analysis of how scientists can be honestly misled, of imperfections in scientific methodology, of the fallible nature of our journals, and of, as Nature put it - when to publish the implausible.
If we are approaching consensus here, maybe we have something to celebrate. Maybe collaboration and rational discussion can work?Gareth Leng 16:06, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
It sounds if the consensus may be that memory of water is right up there with cold fusion, as an essentially discredited hypothesis that probably received too much premature publicity. Indeed, Gareth, there may well be an article about feeding frenzies about preliminary research that was taken as if it were Fifteen (crash) (Mel Brooks voice...) Ten! I bring you ten commandments!.
Agree - there's been a lot of complaints about 'science by press conference' - notably the Andrew Wakefield MMR nonsense. Also going further back, deep anger about the role of the Sunday Times in HIV denial, supporting a maverick scientist (Peter Duesberg). God knows how many people died in South Africa as a consequence of that nonsense.Gareth Leng 16:50, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Is science by press conference workable as an article title? Howard C. Berkowitz 16:56, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Gareth, from my initial work on nanoparticle, it appears that the University of Edinburgh did appreciable work. Did I cite one of your colleagues?
I know something of this, in that I was on the Ethical Review Committee for one of the projects - seemed very interesting and provocative.Gareth Leng 16:50, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
If it's appropriate, perhaps you might mention the early article -- would it be a reason to participate here? Howard C. Berkowitz 16:55, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
At the same time, the homeopathic association cannot be sent down an Orwellian memory hole because it might be embarrassing to homeopaths that adopted it prematurely. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:16, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Let's not blame anyone too much for being enthusiastic about new ideas that look interesting, or for dropping ideas that are superceded. Nature certainly attracted a lot of hostile criticism for promoting it prematurely - if homeopaths did so they were in very good company. Gareth Leng 16:40, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Under many circumstances, I agree with the above. When, however, something is adopted by politicians and advocates before there is adequate verification, it seems appropriate not to forget it, and consider it along in judging their pronouncements in the future. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:54, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Slightly modified suggested new lede, with approaching consensus, shifting emphasis from homeopathy

Memory of water is a concept postulated to explain how solutions diluted far beyond the point where they should retain any active ingredients might retain some biological activity. The concept arose from experiments by a group led by the virologist Jacques Benveniste that were published in Nature and subsequently attacked as unrepeatable. The concept was widely used by homeopaths to explain how their remedies might have some effects. The underlying notion is that water can somehow "remember" characteristics of molecules that it had once been in contact with. Chemists and physicists see this notion as nonsense. Water as a liquid is continuously rearranging hydrogen-bonded network with motions on the picosecond (10−12 s) time scale. Accordingly there is no room for a water "memory" in the current scientific view. Gareth Leng 16:37, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't want the terms, homeopathy and/or homeopaths in the Lead at all.-Ramanand Jhingade 16:43, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Why? Has it not been prominently associated with homeopathy? Do you have a reason besides it is embarrassing?
Your revision seems fair to me, Gareth. As I remember, though, wasn't "memory of water" introduced by the press, not Benveniste himself? If so, I might put a "press-coined" into the first sentence. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:49, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, your right Howard, it was the press that introduced it, it wasn't coined either by homeopaths or Benveniste. Personally I'm happy to drop mention of homeopathy from the lede, but am happy to go by whatever the consensus is here. It's not about point scoring, the decision should simply reflect the character of the article. It's clearly accurate to say that the concept was taken up with enthusiasm by homeopaths - the issue is whether this is notable enough to be worth mentioning in the lede. The more the article condenses onto the scientific controversy, the less relevant is the interest of homeopaths.Gareth Leng 18:11, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, I've (boldly) inserted a new lede that takes on Howard's point about the origin of the phrase and Ramanand's to drop mention of homeopathy. I'm neutral on that issue, and if there's a consensus that homeopathy should be mentioned then it needs to be revised. At present Howard thinks it should in, Ramamand thinks not, I am neutral. Any others?Gareth Leng 18:19, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
I think there should *definitely* be a mention. Every time I read something about homeopathy, there's always a mention of this damn thing, whether in support of homeopathy or in ridiculing it. So I don't see how we can have an article about it without mentioning homeopathy itself. If it weren't for homeopaths, would anyone even know about the memory of water? Hayford Peirce 21:37, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
I completely agree. Sandy Harris 23:03, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Even if homeopaths are dropping the term, discussing it neutrally in past tense still seems necessary and since this would have been a non-issue had it not been for its use by homeopaths, it seems that homeopathy should be in the lead. I would move the sentence "The concept was widely used by homeopaths to explain how their remedies might have some effects." to just in front of the "Chemists.." sentence strictly for concept flow purposes, but otherwise everything written is accurate, neutral, and succinct. D. Matt Innis 03:03, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Organizing articles for web environments

This is a comment from a web document design perspective, and how it differs from paper documents. One cannot assume that the reader, or indeed a search engine display, will go to the "last word", a reasonable assumption for a paper document. The lead really needs to include all major issues for it to encourage a reader to stay with the article. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:35, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Fair point, though Citizendium articles should be written to be read in total, and if they're not that's a weakness. If they are good, there's only so far we should indulge readers with a limited attention span. Seems to me this is concise and that's a good place to start to make sure it's fluent and interesting.Gareth Leng 20:56, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Remember some of those readers may be search engines or automatic abstract list generators. In this context, I think the lead must mention homeopathy. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:28, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

why have you removed the "a"?

It doesn't make grammatical sense to me to write: "Water as a liquid is continuously rearranging hydrogen-bonded network" without either an "a" in front of "continuously" or an "s" on the end of "network".

As a courtesy to others, would you please indicate in the Subject box what you have done and why when you make an edit. Hayford Peirce 21:33, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

True, I don't do that enough - (mostly because it takes me five edits to fix the mistakes I made in my first). But that error was introduced by an edit explained in the subject box - the a wasn't removed, it was a typo in the new lead text suggested by Sandy above that I copied in. Thanks for spotting it.Gareth Leng 22:49, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, this whole Edit history is *very* confusing to me. Anyway, everything seems to be fixed now. Hayford Peirce 23:23, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Supporting articles

Created CD63 antigen and updated flow cytometry. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:17, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

the picosecond (10−12 s) time scale;

Is this supposed to be something like 10 to the minus 12 seconds? If so, isn't there some way it can be rendered correctly? Right now it looks like me saying, "cook the egg 10-12 seconds".... Hayford Peirce 16:12, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
  1. Keutsch FN et al. (2003) Chem Rev 103: 2533-77
  2. Keutsch FN et al. (2003) Chem Rev 103: 2533-77
  3. Prashant Satish Chikramane, Akkihebbal K. Suresh, Jayesh Ramesh Bellare, and Shantaram Govind Kane Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective Homeopathy 99/4, 231-242 (October 2010).
  4. Keutsch FN et al. (2003) Chem Rev 103: 2533-77