Randi on World Homeopathy Awareness Week

World Homeopathy Awareness Week is fast coming to an end, unfortunately. And what would any sort of “homeopathy awareness” be without a commentary from James Randi? After all, Steve, Kimball, and I will be seeing Randi on Saturday as we participate in the SBM panel for NECSS:

We at SBM share with Randi his desire that people be aware of the true nature of homeopathy.

Posted in: Homeopathy

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26 thoughts on “Randi on World Homeopathy Awareness Week

  1. Anarres says:

    WHAW!!! ROFL XD I love Randi!

  2. DanaUllman says:

    Thank you James Randi for proving yourself to be a scientific fraud, or at least you’ve proven how little you know about science, medicine, or homeopathy.

    It is amazing that he STILL thinks that the “television science experiment” conducted through the BBC was anything other than “junk science”! It is hilarious that he would think otherwise.

    The BBC program specifically said that they “replicated” the work of Professor M. Ennis, a professor of biochemistry at Queens University, who led a group of 4 university labs who sucessfully showed that VARIOUS potencies of histamine had dramatic effects on basophils.

    Professor Ennis’ email to me clearly shows the many ways in which this “study” was not a replication of her work (or anyone else’s work)…it was created by and conducted by a lab tech who had never done any previous research on basophils and has still never published a study on a peer-review journal (and certainly NEVER published this “study”). I will be curious, very curious, if anyone here will defend this study. C’mon, try!,55

    For additional analysis of the BBC study or the 20/20 “study”, check out:

    This stuff is junk science to the max, though I predict that the crowd here will become suddenly silent in their evaluation of the BBC and 20/20 studies. Let’s see…

  3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Don’t worry Dana, if it’s a real effect, it can be replicated easily, by anyone with sufficient lab experience. If you can really show an effect between various potencies of hystamines, particularly at homeopathic dilutions, then the truth will come out. And if it’s an artifact of incompetence, fraud, or the 5% of studies that turn out to be type I errors, replicability will fail.

    Incidentally, I still have a question about resonance. Resonance requires the application of energy to produce synchronized vibration (in a thumbnail sketch). You claimed that homeopathy works by resonance. I have a few questions:

    What provides the energy for reasonance to occur?

    What is resonating? Molecules? Which ones? Molecules in body structures? Or whole tissues? Or organs?

    How do the remedies know when to release their energy, and in a synchronized fasion so the wavelengths don’t cancel each other out?

    Can this resonance be measured? An MRI can measure the resonance of a single molecule, could it be used to detect the resonance of a homeopathic remedy?

    Also, about information – is that the appropriate word to use? As I’ve pointed out before, calling something information doesn’t make it information – information is the transfer of meaning, which requires a medium and an intelligent receptor. In homeopathy, what is the medium, and what is the receptor? What is the evidence supporting homeopathy conveying information? What other biological pathways convey information in a similar fashion, rather than up- and down-regulating genes, or acting as enzymes, or activating proteins, as most pharmaceuticals do?

    Thanks, I look forward to your answers.

  4. Harriet Hall says:


    We were discussing proposed explanations for homeopathy on another thread and you stopped answering. What happened? I pointed out that logically you were going to have to either renounce hormesis as a justification for homeopathy or renounce the remedies consisting of trans-Avogadro dilutions. Which did you decide to renounce?

  5. mikerattlesnake says:

    it seems like dana repeatedly forgets that people here can see through his bullshit. The challenges to his posts have been numerous and well-reasoned and when cornered, he dissapears. What makes him think he’s going to be made to look less foolish this time?

  6. Wolfy says:

    That was awesome!! If anyone could see through the smoke and mirrors, he/she would naturally be a magician :)

  7. Happy Camper says:


    I want to thank you (really I do) because of your posts in Huff Po. As someone with a little more than passing interest and training in the sciences I was taken back by your posts in Huff Po. Your failure in logic, taking things out of context, ad hominen attacks, snarky remarks, failure to address questions and complete misunderstanding of science caused me to look into the nonsense of homeopathy. Heck if it wasn’t for you and the other quacks and confidence men posting there I wouldn’t have become aware of these blogs (science and reality based) or have joined the Skeptics Society (Hi Harriet). Thanks to you I wouldn’t have become a vehement opponent of homeopathy and other sCAM medicine. You make the accusation of fraud but in my opinion the only fraud here is you sir. You want your beliefs (yes beliefs) to be supported science but personally I don’t think you would know proper scientific inquiry if it fell on your head.

  8. DanaUllman says:

    Cool…no one (!) is defending the PRIMARY evidence that James Randi asserts is evidence against homeopathy. Thanx.

    His lack of sophistication in science is telling. Heck, he IS a magician…and he has successfully fooled you all.

    Harriet…you are showing (again) the problems and limitations of your thinking. Some questions are not either/or.

    Hormesis is a real phenomenon, as is the ultra-high potencies in homeopathy.

    No one here has questioned the validity of hormesis…and because a LARGE number of homeopathic medicines sold in health food stores and pharmacies are in the hormesis range, when you all going to advocate for the use of these medicines?

    You all might also enjoy the large body of basic sciences research on a homeopathic formula from Brazil called Canova. Do a google and enjoy reading this body of work, most of which has been published in conventional journals. The clinical research is only just beginning…

  9. wales says:

    The Amazing Randi must be truly magical. According to a 1988 Time Magazine profile, Randi was born prematurely in Toronto in 1928 weighing only 2 pounds, 3 ounces. It is “amazing” that a 2 pound preemie survived in the pre-vaccine, pre-antibiotic 20s and 30s with measles, diphtheria, pertussis, chicken pox, etc, etc, raging around him. I wonder if he was one of those “sideshow” incubator babies If so, that could explain why he dropped out of high school to join a carnival (according to Wikipedia anyway).

    What a wacky, topsy-turvy world we live in, another scientist receives the Templeton Prize and SBM is quoting a magician. Carry on SBM, extra points for entertainment value!

  10. Anarres says:

    Sorry, my english is very bad so I quote from a book about hormesis:

    “Hormesis Is Not Homeopathy

    Homeopathy is a 200-year-old theory of medicine based on the work of Samuel Hahnemann that proposes that agents that produce symptoms of a disease in a healthy person could be used to treat ill patients. From this is derived the wellknown principle of homeopathy that “like cures like.” Hahnemann believed that his treatments could be effective at vanishingly low doses, a possibility that generated skepticism within his homeopathic medical community, as well as within the
    broader biomedical community. Homeopathy and the concept of hormesis became linked through the work of Hugo Schulz at the University of Greiswald in northern Germany. In the mid 1880s Schulz observed that chemical disinfectants stimulated
    the metabolism of yeast at low doses while being inhibitory at higher doses. Schulz immediately thought that he had discovered the scientific principle underlying the medical practice of homeopathy. He advocated this perspective until his death in 1932. In general, the work of Schulz had no connection with homeopathy. It was based on assessing the dose-response continuum, that is, doses that exceeded the
    toxic threshold and doses immediately below it. The hormetic dose response is a normal component of the traditional dose response. Large amounts of experimentally derived data have demonstrated that adaptive responses are observable at doses
    immediately below toxic thresholds. This is the hormetic zone, not a dose zone multiple orders of magnitude below the threshold and into a vanishingly low concentration at which molecules may or may not even be present. Thus, the biological
    process of hormesis is only linked to the purely human construct of homeopathy because of a mistake by Hugo Schulz.”

  11. mikerattlesnake says:

    so wales, are you contending that skeptics believed that everyone died of preventable diseases before the widespread use of vaccines? That’s a pretty silly idea. Randi is a skeptic and a promoter of reason. He is not a primary researcher or a scientist. Attempting to discredit him by pointing out that he was a high school dropout makes as much sense as dismissing the theory of relativity because Einstein wasn’t much of a student. One’s success in public school is controlled by a limited set of skills. Not all smart people excel in school. Randi has spent a huge part of his life applying reason and debunking nonsense. We don’t dismiss homeopathy because Randi says so, we dismiss it for the same reason Randi does: the evidence for its efficacy has left us wanting.

    If you’re pro-homeopathy, quit dancing around and nit-picking: show us how it works and that it does work. Heck, give me a plausible scenario in which a guy 200 years ago with almost no knowledge of any of the relevant sciences made a GUESS about how things work in our incredibly complex bodies and was right.

  12. mikerattlesnake says:

    As for Dana, you only seem to be making the argument that a lot of homeopathic remedies are mis-labeled. You should probably write to the companies that produce them since hormesis is not homeopathy.

  13. wales says:

    mrs: brilliant, just brilliant, comparing randi with einstein…..who was educated and recognized as a scientist.

    btw, you say “show us” is that the royal or editorial we? don’t have an opinion on homeopathy, just reading for fun.

  14. wales says:

    mrs: brilliant, just brilliant, comparing randi with einstein, who was educated and recognized as a scientist.

    btw, you said “show us”, is that the royal or editorial we? don’t have an opinion on homeopathy, just reading for fun.

  15. Archangl508 says:

    “because a LARGE number of homeopathic medicines sold in health food stores and pharmacies are in the hormesis range”

    First off, there is no specific “hormesis range”. The hormesis effect would differ depending on substance being tested and the effect being examined. The term hormesis simply details a dose response phenomenon characterized by a low dose stimulation, high dose inhibition, resulting in either a J-shaped or an inverted U-shaped dose response. Also, to show hormesis is in play, you would still have to demonstrate the expected J or U shaped response, something I haven’t seen done for any homeopathic treatments yet….unless you have some data to share.

    Let’s say a remedy is in the hormesis range within the remedy itself, but that would change dramatically once the remedy is ingested. Lets say, for example, you have a compound that has an effect in an in vitro assay at a 8C potency and you consider that effect to be hormetic in its mechanism. Once you ingest that remedy, the concentration of substance is diluted even further by the absorption into the GI tract and distribution throughout the body. You don’t even know the level at which a particular remedy is absorbed or how metabolic processes could potentially clear the remedy.

    I have yet to see any work studying the pharmacokinetics of homeopathic remedies. Why don’t you just call it what it is, energy medicine, no different than healing crystals or any other “enegy healing” modality. Why the continued need to provide scientific explanations for something that is not at all scientific?

  16. qetzal says:


    Hormesis is a real phenomenon, as is the ultra-high potencies in homeopathy.

    Yes, hormesis is a real phenomenon. And yes, ultra-high “potencies” are really used for many homeopathic preparations. Understanding, of course, that we’re using the homeopathic definition where “potencies” means “dilution factors.”

    So yes, many homeopathic preparations really are diluted to the point where they are nothing but ordinary water with an exorbitant price tag.

    No one here has questioned the validity of hormesis…and because a LARGE number of homeopathic medicines sold in health food stores and pharmacies are in the hormesis range, when you all going to advocate for the use of these medicines?

    As soon as there is adequate empirical evidence for their safety and efficacy.

  17. TsuDhoNimh says:

    Dana –
    I’m reading the research and abstracts on “Metodo Canova”. It’s all in vitro, and as any drug researcher will tell you, it’s easy to kill cells in a dish. Let us know when the whole animal studies are published.

    The Brazilians were using dH (decimal dilutions), specifically five decimal dynamizations – which is a paltry 10-6 concentration if I’m reading my Homeopathy for Dummies correctly.

    The “canova” medication does contain arsenic. Arsenic, BTW, was just written up by the Chinese: they figured out why it’s helpful for a specific leukemia. It interferes with a protein synthesis the cancer cells need.

  18. TsuDhoNimh says:

    Also … they are referring to “CM was added at concentrations of 20 or 40%”

    How the heck can you make a 40% concentration of a homeopathic solution without screwing up the magic dilutions?

    Or are they talking about having 20 or 40% of the culture fluid be the homeopathic dilution … in which case they need to run a control with just distilled water, which they didn’t do. Their “controls” were untreated cultures, which leaves the possibility that the diluent itself is the thinga-ma-bob that’s doing the job.

  19. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:


    “No one here has questioned the validity of hormesis…and because a LARGE number of homeopathic medicines sold in health food stores and pharmacies are in the hormesis range, when you all going to advocate for the use of these medicines?”

    When two things happen:

    #They aren’t called homeopathy any more, and more importantly,
    #High-quality evidence demonstrates they are more effective than placebo at improving some health condition.

    No-one feels the need to defend Randi for two other reasons:

    #His comments stand on their own and don’t need defence
    #Your own attacks on his comments are pretty inadequate.

    Glad to clear both of those points up for you.

  20. JMB says:

    When James Randi is making a statement that can be subjected to scientific inquiry, his conclusions are supported by the known results of scientific inquiry to the current day. I can see nothing wrong with his assertions. Perhaps Dana could outline which assertions are pseudoscience, so we could examine it in greater detail.

    After listening to James Randi, it finally hit me over the head about one point. Why would any homeopathic practitioner in attendance at a supervised experiment, not raise objections about errors in the conduct of the experiment, when there was a million dollars at stake!? That makes the retrospective objections to the televised experiment pretty incredulous.

  21. Zoe237 says:

    That was hilarious! I really like James Randi (even if I disagree on global warming!). He’s a treat.

  22. JMB says:

    When I was a lab tech, I never published any papers, but I could certainly do my job with greater precision than the supervising publishing scientist. The scientist was more concerned with writing grant applications and papers for publications than the details of the lab work. I did have one mentor who was gracious enough to include my name as author in one of the papers for which the lab work was very difficult.

  23. JMB says:

    Dana, your challenge refers to an email complaining about how the demonstration was incorrectly performed. That is not a scientific study, that is an opinion. It is possible to argue about the experimental design or statistical methods, but it is not possible to argue about what Professor Ennis opines as important steps to reproduce the experimental results. The only way to settle the challenge is for Professor Ennis to agree to repeat the experiment for the BBC. I would think that a 1 million dollar prize would be enough of an incentive to volunteer to repeat the experiment. The whole idea of science is to find some fact that we can both observe and agree on. Science cannot settle an issue of opinion unless an experiment can be devised to observe facts that support or refute an opinion. Since the opinion of Professor Ennis is about the methods of an experiment, the only scientifically valid way to settle the issue is for several repetitions of the experiment to be completed to show that the BBC experiment was in error. Until such time, you cannot argue based on science that the experiment performed by the BBC was junk science. That remains your opinion until evidence from an experiment refutes it.

  24. moderation says:

    Mr. Ullman,

    I have never seen anyone propose this:

    I assume that if as you say increasing dilution increases strength … here is MY challenge … you make a homeopathic preparation that will produce an obvious measurable effect … and I will drink one gallon of it a day for the next week and then once and for all we will see the power of homeopathy for what it is. I am sure I can get some other voluteers to join me in this challenge. Besides, my wife is always telling me I don’t drink enough water.

  25. BillyJoe says:

    I can only repeat:


    For obvious reasons, he’s not going to stick around to argue.

    BTW, homoeopathic preparations do indeed show hormesis: drink insufficient water and you will die of dehydration. Drink adequate amounts of water and it’s good for you. Drink too much water and you will die of electrolyte inbalance.


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