People have been poking fun at homeopathy for a long time.  In the first half of the 19th century Edgar Allan Poe published, “Never Bet the Devil Your Head,” which involves an accidental decapitation.  The narrator takes what is left of the victim to a homeopath, with a poor outcome. 

They did mention the field to us in medical school without encouraging us to believe in it.  If memory serves the homeopath observes a symptom, chooses a poison that will also produce that symptom and diluted the poison many times.  That is then offered as the treatment. 

It turns out that the dilutions are so extreme that it is very unlikely that even a single molecule of the original poison makes it into the aliquot offered.  Poe’s story was of course written before there was strong evidence for the atomic theory of matter.  But those who believe in homeopathy say there need not be.  The theory is that somehow the toxin places its imprint on assemblages of water molecules, and it is these assemblages that neutralize whatever is producing the symptom.

One might be forgiven for being skeptical, but the idea remains in the news.  (UNESCO Meeting Under Fire NATURE vol. 346 no. 6205 October 3, 2014 page 15) The meeting in question is not about homeopathy but is about whether such a memory can be found for water or anything else.

A man named Luc Montagnier is behind the interest.  He has a Nobel prize, was co-discoverer of HIV and in fact is chair of a foundation associated with UNESCO.

Alas, could I but muster the interest he has mustered. 

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