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article imageOp-Ed: Group stages 'overdose' campaign to protest homoeopathic drugs Special

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     Feb 8, 2011 in Health
Toronto - Last Saturday, volunteer groups staged a worldwide overdose campaign where people deliberately took massive doses commercially bought homoeopathic products to show there is nothing in them. A Toronto group took part in the worldwide event.
The worldwide event, called the 10:23 Challenge is based on a classical demonstration of the absurdity of homoeopathy which consists of downing a complete bottle or package of a single homoeopathic product. The event is co-ordinated by the UK Merseyside Skeptics Society, a non-profit organisation that promotes scientific skepticism.
A separate website has been set up for the 10:23 Challenge. The slogan for the 10:23 Challenge leaves little to the imagination: "Homeopathy, there’s nothing in it". This year, people participated all over the world. According to the map, there were about 70 different locations from Auckland inNew Zealand over Oslo in Norway and Phoenix in Arizona to Antarctica.
The group that participated in the Toronto event was composed of members of the Association for Science and Reason (ASR), the Centre For Inquiry (CFI) and it’s Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS).
At 12:00 PM, the group set up shop at the north west corner of Yonge and Dundas. Lisa Johnson of the ASR acted as MC and explained what homoeopathy is, while Genessa Radke and Iain Martel used an espresso and 30 test tubes filled with water to demonstrate how homoeopathic products are made.
Other participants carried signs with messages about homoeopathy, such as "Homeopathy quacks me up" or "Silly Sugar Salespersons Should Stop Swindling Society", while still others went around giving out information about homoeopathy and talking to people about it.
Homoeopathy is based on four main principles:
1. A lenghty interview by the homoeopath of the patient, in order to find out all her/his symptoms, and then prescribe a product that is supposed to cure these symptoms
2. The principle of "Like cures Like" or the idea that symptoms can be cured by administering a product that causes similar symptoms in a healthy person
3. The principle of potentisation: the product must be serially diluted and succussed (shaken). At each dilution/succussion, the product becomes more powerful (potent)
4. We all have a Vital Force that keeps us alive and well. However, this Vital Force, while powerful, is not very bright, and must sometimes be shown what to do. Homoeopathic products (which are called remedies in homoeospeak) are supposed to coax the Vital Force in doing the right thing and hence cure the symptoms of the patient
None of these principles have been shown to be true, but the absurdity of the serial dilution/succussion is easiest to demonstrate. In order to prepare a homoeopathic product, one takes 1 part of the original product, and dilutes it into 99 parts of water. This mixture is then succussed (banged hard against a leather-bound Bible). We have now a 1 in 100 dilution, or in homoeospeak, a 1C dilution.
Of this shaken mixture, 1 part is taken and diluted in 99 parts of water. This mixture is succussed, which results in a 1 in 10,000 dilution, a 2C dilution in homoeospeak.
This process is typically repeated until a 30C dilution or 1 part in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 dilution is reached. It is easier to write this in scientific notation, namely 1060.
Science tells us that there is a limit to how far a substance can be diluted. This is called Avogadro’s Constant or Avogadro’s Number. It is approximately equal to 6.022 x 1023. Once a dilution goes further than this, it becomes vanishingly improbable that even a single molecule of the original substance will be present in the dilution.
Homoeopaths freely admit that. They call these dilutions ultramolecular dilutions or BRAN (Beyond the Reciprocal of Avogadro’s Number). However, they claim that the dilution-succussion process somehow encourages the water to remember the original substance. Hence, the often-heard claim that water has a memory. Scientifically speaking, this is nonsense.
This is precisely why the 10:23 Challenge was created. In order to show that there really is nothing in homoeopathy, the volunteers are putting their lives on the line by downing an overdose of a homoeopathic product, i.e. an entire bottle or tube. The Toronto group used products, with such inauspicious labels as Gelsemium sempervirens (related to strychnine), Arsenicum album (arsenic), Belladonna (nightshade) and Mercurius solubilis (mercury).
A typical dose is 5 pellets. By consuming an entire tube of 80 pellets, the volunteers are consuming 16 times the normal dose. Even if they don’t die as a result, they should at least feel some seriously negative effects, if there was anything to homoeopathy. However, the volunteers seemed in good spirits all the time.
I tried Mercurius solubilis (mercury) myself, and since I am writing this article, I think that I can fairly conclude that I am still alive. I also feel quite OK.
This demonstration is what the 10:23 Challenge is all about: showing that there is nothing in homoeopathy. In fact, it can be quite dangerous. Since homoeopaths do not normally keep statistics of their failures, there are no official numbers, but we do know that people die as a result of using homoeopathy. Not because the products kill them, that would be difficult, but because some homoeopaths encourage patients to not seek treatment when they need it, or because they encourage them to not vaccinate their children.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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