Sunday, 13 September 2009

If homeopathy works ... I'll drink my own piss



Update:
As this post has had so many hits I thought I really ought to correct some of the inaccuracies in the video. Rather than removing or re-filming the video, here’s a list of corrections:
  1. I keep incorrectly pronouncing succussion as succession. It should be “sus-sussion”
  2. To make the 1C dilution I should have added my 1ml of piss to 99ml of water, not 100 ml
  3. Although I rinsed the pipette after the first succession, I should really have used a clean pipette each time

Other than that, I think it’s about right, it really is that silly

87 comments:

SVETLANA PERTSOVICH said...

Wow!!! Ha-ha-ha! Bravo! :)
But the experiment has been carried out not to the end! ;)
The homeopaths state that non-diluted "matter" is much more soft than homeopathically diluted!
Let any homeopath DRINK the non-diluted liquid from the first cup! :D :P

Ramel said...

Fantastic, next time I have to explain why homeopathy is bollocks I think I'll just link here.

Synoiz said...

Is that really what homeopathy is? How can anyone think that works? Thanks for demonstrating how bollocks it is in such an entertaining way!

MrHunnybun said...

Really enjoyed the video. It never fails to amaze me how many people believe in this absolute drivel.

McDawg said...

Hilarious !!

Parents took me to see a homeopath years ago re. facial eczema. After about a year, the homepath said something like "for 1/3 homeopathy works, for 1/3 it works after a long period and for 1/3, it doesn't work". I thought to myself, "great, I wish you had told myself and my parents that ~£1000 ago" Treatment #FAIL

Ricardohere said...

Superb!
I love it - it's up there with the Smith & Webb 'Homeopathic A&E' clip on Youtube!
I hope you don't mind if I post a few links to this hither and yon...

Just one thing, though: don't homeopaths claim to know what their 'remedy' is supposed to 'cure' by the process of 'proving', i.e. taking a quantity of the 'active' ingredient and deciding amongst themselves how they feel?
I believe the process of 'proving' has been authorised by the powers that be so that homeopathy is allowed to be prescribed on the NHS, whereas all other medical interventions require phased RCTs, etc.

Apologies - got a bit too serious there. I think you should send a bottle of your finest to a homeopath so that he or she will be able to tell you what your 30C will 'cure'. I await 'Aqua Jago' at my local quackery.

DBH said...

Utterly brilliant! A few points though, which homeopaths are bound to pick up on...

It's supposed to be 1 part piss in 99 parts water.

The same pipette was used all the way through.

Succussion requires banging 10 times on leather.

All bollocks I know but you might want to repeat the experiment.

Otherwise fantastic demo of homeopathic quackery.

TK said...

I bet a lot of people would still hesitate, even if only for a second, before doing it with someone else's piss though.

Skepticat said...

Nice try, Crispian, but you've totally misunderstood the science behind it. Although your piss may have been diluted out of existence, the water retains a memory of it which, when you get pissed, will stimulate your immune system to...um make you sober again.

By not giving the fully explanation you've made homeopathy sound stupid.

SVETLANA PERTSOVICH said...

Aha! I have found the suitable candidature for drinking the non-diluted homeopathic urine!

Look at it!
http://www.dcscience.net/?p=2222&cpage=1#comment-4195

Lionel Milgrom has dared to complain against David Colquhoun!
Dirty homeopath!!!
Oh, I shall make this Milgrom to drink non-diluted urine during all his residuary life until he will prove that his homeopathy works!!!

Jonathan said...

Are you sure you were using piss and not Fosters?

rod said...

Would you repeat the experiment with poison?

John said...

Very nice. Although, as a rational, thinking individual, I'd say one could go for the 4c or even 3c with no risk whatsoever.

For Rod, yes, I'd do it with a water-soluble poison. How about with some H2SO4?

Mary said...

Jonathan, you asked, "Are you sure you were using piss and not Fosters?"

There's really never any way to be sure if you haven't watched it come out of someone's body, and not always then.

Tobias Ussing said...

@Skepticat, First off, he mentioned that. Second off, there is no evidence to support your claim.

If you can provide any evidence that water has memory, or that homeopathy works, I highly suggest you go for the million dollar challenge.

Yes, all you have to do is prove that you can tell two cups apart, one is clear water, the other is poison in 30c(also clear water btw).

If you can tell them apart, you will be 1 million dollars richer.

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html

Note: many a homeopath have tried, none have succeeded.

lessalines said...

Suppose you are presecribed a dose of say 1 ml of a 30c remedy. If you only took half the dose, would the result be more potent?

Tobias Ussing said...

@rod Has already been done many a time. But why not.

Skepticat said...

My comment wasn't intnded to be entirely serious, Tobias. The clue is in my name and the link behind it.

Phil McKerracher said...

Haha! Never thought I'd see you drink your own piss. Oh, wait, I still haven't.

Or have I? There must be a finite possibility. Isn't there a molecule of water that passed through Oliver Cromwell's kidneys in every glass or something?

Zeno said...

Wait a minute! I know how many pints of beer you downed last night (or so you claimed on Twitter) - that was pure real ale you diluted!

The Science Pundit said...

Does this mean that you'll now be sober in the UK and contented in the US?

Anonymous said...

That is fantastic. I think it should be 1 ml of pee into 99 ml of water. I may be wrong though. Brilliant video and will point people to this video when trying to explain homeopathy. Thanks!

Michael Kingsford Gray said...

"Does this mean that you'll now be sober in the UK and contented in the US"

What a hellish choice!

Mutant Jedi said...

Homeopathy or... a silly way to clean your pipette

Sunil said...

Wonderful video, a good example of how humour can be effective in combating this kind of nonsense.

Bart said...

@ Skepticat and Tobias

Another classic example of Poe's law in action.

I appreciate satire. Its a form of art and humor that requires a delicate handle of the subject matter. I use it often in my normal daily speech, when I can.

I have abandoned it on the intertubes. Satire falls flat in the short blurbs of the blogosphere. There are far too many people who actually believe batshitery insanities. Trying to mock them with satire will guarantee that someone will take you seriously. This leaves even the clever satirist stumbling to explain his position, draining any possible humor from his screed.

Andy said...

@Johnathan @Mary - there's never really any way to be sure if there is _actually_ any difference between Fosters and piss.....

HPWB said...

Very nice demonstration but I do have a problem with the methodology, different pipettes should be used between the dilution steps to ensure the dilution is actually "correct" (if one could apply such a term to homeopathy).

Brpwrdnsfrnzy said...

Oh, you'd get on so well with the guys from FairDeal Homeopathy... (I see you even used the same image as is on their home page!)

http://www.fdhom.co.uk

;-)

Cheers,

Rich.

Shona said...

Great video but, uh, I would have used a clean pipette after the the first dilution!

Skittler said...

@Shona - but that's the point. If you're worried about there being some of the original, ahem. solution left on the pipette, there's really no need to be. He could have used bleach, or poison, or anything hazardous. He's diluting the solution 100 times for each glass. By the time he's reached the 12th cup, he's deleted it by 1000000000000000000000000 times (that's 24 zeros). Now, that number is MORE than the total number of water molecules in his twelfth glass of water! By the time he's got to 30 glasses (add another 36 zeros to that number above) then there really is absolutely nothing left at all of the original solution - it was long gone many glasses earlier. So, even if the pipette was still a little contaminated after the first cup, he's quite safe :)

Crispian Jago said...

Shona,

I placed the pipette in the measuring jug of water after the 1 C solution and rinsed it out a few times before doing the other successions. However I have been reliably informed that I should have used a new pipette. However my execute producer's budget (The Wife) would not stretch to that.

Maybe if I do it again I could address some of the valid critisims

Eduardo Kalinowski said...

Brilliant. The only thing I missed was a "This is what homeopaths actually believe" subtitle à la South Park.

Blue Bubble said...

Crispian,

the word is "succussion", not "succession". Don't want to give the homeopaths any ammunition whatsoever!

Anonymous said...

Umm... excellent clip, I smiled all through it. However, did you make sure you started with thoroughly amnesiated (sic?) water? With all the natural dilution going on, every molecule of water must necessarily have a long chain of memories from each substance it has encountered since it was formed. Just think of the storage capacity needed to retain that, not to mention the ability to instantly communicate it to all the other molecules in the dilution (and to your body).

This is so silly: even if water had a memory of the kind envisioned by homeopaths, it does not explain why diluting the water makes that particular memory stronger, instead of just blurring it with all the other memories already present.

jdb said...

What an idiot. He thinks homeopathy is the use of diluted substances. Poor fool. Homeopathy is a prescription that causes a reaction in the patient and it is that reaction cures the patient. The use of diluted substances does not make it homeopathy.

Yet another ignoramus.

Skeptobot said...

Well jdb the problem was that someone has been taking the piss, so the reaction was to consume said piss.

I hope you understand now.

elbuho said...

A prescription causes a reaction? On the basis of which physiological process? Show me the research.

DBH said...

@jdb

You should be a bit careful before calling people idiots.

The central theme of homeopathy IS the process of potentisation and succussion, whereby a "remedy" is made more potent the more times it is diluted.

This gives homeopathy the undoubted claim that the remedies are side effect free. If they are not diluted beyond existence, homeopathy is a fatal mode of quackery given that the starting materials (or mother tincture) are often highly toxic substances such as arsenic.

Your statement of "homeopathy is a prescription that causes a reaction in the patient and it is that reaction cures the patient" is neither here nor there.

In fact, it is a pretty good description of real medicine.

Would you care to elaborate what this proposed reaction is?

I would agree that the use of diluted substances does not make it homeopathic.

Homeopathic remedies are ULTRA-DILUTE substances beyond Avogadro's constant, which is what Crispian is demonstrating here.

I hope you are not a homeopath yourself, otherwise you might be the most dangerous of them all.

CryoTank said...

Yes, jdb, it's called a placebo effect. Smiling and saying a lot of feel-good stuff plus handing out magical water or candy can help the patient to 'feel' better.

That's about all that can be said for the effectiveness of homeopathy because the underlying premise - high dilution = high potency; like cures like - is still B.S.

Perhaps you should try and read what homeopathy actually is instead of insulting people.

Anonymous said...

Nice job.

Zeno said...

DBH said: "I hope you are not a homeopath yourself, otherwise you might be the most dangerous of them all."

Did you mean any one who actually believes the nonsense they push?

DBH said...

@Zeno

I have my own classification of them.

The truly deluded, i.e., those who believe in "magic water and sugar pills". These are the nice ones, but nevertheless dangerous.

The devious, i.e., those who KNOW it is all BS and still push nonsense.

And now we have a third group. The ignorant. The most dangerous of them all where they lack a basic understanding of the woo they are pushing.

Artful Dodger said...

@Skittler:

Most of us can agree that the premise of homeopathy is bogus, but not for the reason you state. The mere fact that there are more dilutions than there are molecules in the last sample does not guarantee that none of the original molecules made the trip. It is not unlike the premise that the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 cannot win the next PowerBall drawing. Of course it can. Any combination of digits has the same chance of winning as any other combination. Similarly, any individual molecule has the same chance of moving to the next tumbler as any other. If "none" of the original molecules could survive the trip, explain where total substitution occurred. Didn't some undifferentiated molecules move from tumbler one to two, from two to three, .....? How did you decide which would move on and which would stay behind?

Falken said...

Here is a great webcomic on the subject of homeopathy.
Remedy

Anonymous said...

HA! Cathy says the experiment was not scientific - you bash some cups twice, some three times.
Well, I'm not arguing with her. And right alongside all the other postees - I liberally use irony!

Jim - in sunny Cornwall... except it's night-time. hmmm. more irony, I think!

Paul H said...

Hey Crispian
Always knew homeopathy was a load of chod but great to see it explained so perfectly. An equally ridiculous concept with a scary number of advocates is 'carbon offsetting' beautifully ridiculed by the fantastic Cheat Neutral service. I think you'll enjoy.
PH

Marsh said...

You, squire, are a genius.

What was the effect of the strengthened piss? Wikipedia seems to suggest an anti-cancer effect, so if you had mega-cancer while filming this, it will be cured.

Go get an X-Ray - if it shows you have no cancer, then you've proven both Homeopathy and Uropathy have worked in one fell swoop.

Marsh
Merseyside Skeptics Society

Neuroskeptic said...

Interestingly, many lager manufacturers use a very similar procedure to make their beers. Although I think they do a few more dilutions.

Anonymous said...

i am pissed off... with homeopathy

Joisey Mike said...

I love it! I posted an offer to make free homeopathic birth control a while back, but you've inspired me to make a video one day.

http://www.cynicgazette.com/2008/05/06/free-homeopathic-birth-control/

Term said...

Really enjoyed this video thanks for sharing...!

Dr Kamal said...

Silly video belittling Homeopathy:

I was bedridden way back in 1978, suffering from paralysis of the lower extremities after an accident.

After my discharge from the hospital, my mom took me to see a Homeopath. He gave me some globules to be taken 4 hourly and I was up and walking in two days...

Now, I am a practicing Homeopath and have treated more than 250,000 patients with success...

Drink my piss....

Dr Kamal
DHMS.
Malaysian Homeopath

P.S.:I still have the documents from the hospital to prove that I was paralysed from the waist down.

Edd said...

Dear Dr Kamal,

Yes. It is a silly video. And it belittles homeopathy, but unfortunately homeopathy is a silly subject, far sillier than the video and, as much as you might not like to admit it, quite deserving of ridicule. It sometimes takes such silliness to highlight the tragically insane ideas some people, such as yourself, have.

I'm very much sympathetic to anyone suffering paralysis for whatever reason, and I'm glad if you suffered from it and recovered. However, there is simply not the evidence that homeopathy is an effective treatment for anything, least of all a condition as devastating as paraplegia.

Do you really, genuinely, honestly believe that if two days of tablets with no pharmaceutically active content can cure paraplegia, that homeopaths would be resorting to the vague scrabbling around of the literature for borderline results that actually takes place?

Homeopathy has had over 200 years to demonstrate effects even fractionally as large as those practicing homeopaths claim in the clinic, and yet has failed in controlled trials. The purpose of controlled trials is not to diminish the effect one looks for but to remove all other effects, so that the one in investigation can be highlighted and yet still your profession fails to produce convincing evidence beyond the statistically marginal at best.

I'm genuinely pleased if you are able to walk, but equally genuinely displeased if you mislead others as to the true reasons behind your ability to do so.

And I wouldn't wish you to drink anything than whatever you enjoy most,

Edd

Edd said...

I'm sorry, I horribly misworded something there. I'm certainly not glad if you suffered from paralysis, but I am definitely glad if you recovered from such a misfortune. Accept my apologies on that.

MattJ said...

Well I don't think I can put it any better than Edd. If you have to rely on belief in efficacy because of a continual failure to be able to prove it, then that's not medicine, it's religion.

Dr Kamal, I'm sure, like Edd, we are all very glad that you recovered from your affliction. I won't question your belief that taking 'some globules' cured you, but I have to question your ability to prove it.

Matt

Emma Goldstein said...

Dr Kamal

Asuming you are a doctor (I highly doubt it) and asuming you started "treating" patients in 1978, you have treated more than 22 new patients per day in the last 31 years! Unbelievable. Literally.

Zeno said...

I make it 30 a day, but I won't quibble - we've probably made slightly different assumptions.

However, that boils down to one patient every 16 minutes on average. Not much of a personalised service.

ScottPollock said...

...but did anyone notice the dancing bear?

Anonymous said...

Let's say you wake up in the middle of the night having chest pains -- are you gonna call 911 or a homeopath?

Actually, I suspect you secretly subsituted APPLE JUICE instead of your own urine.. AHA!!

BTW, the "doctor" of homeopathy (Dr. Kamal) has only his pathetic anecdotal BS to back up his claim, give me a RCT any day. He probably already drinks his own piss like Gandi did.

worlebird said...

@"Dr." Kamal
"DHMS" stands for "Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine & Surgery". It does not make you a doctor, and you have no right to use/abuse this title when referring to yourself. At least, you wouldn't in my country; I don't know what the laws are like in Malaysia. In addition to believing in ridiculous things, you are also a liar, as it can be demonstrated mathematically that it is highly improbable that you have treated anywhere close to 250,000 people in your career.

Will said...

I think Edd has nailed it here. Then again, there are things we don't understand.

Adrian said...

the pronunciation is su-cushion, Shirley

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GrahamB said...

Let me draw the attention of anyone who hasn't seen it to the splendid Newsbiscuit story "New Age Terrorists develop homeopathic bomb"(http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2010/04/20/new-age-terrorists-develop-homeopathic-bomb/) in which it is proven by homeopathic principles that diluting explosive results in a really big bang.

Anonymous said...

Nice try, but people that believe in homeopathy would rebuke your video by declaring "straw-man shenanigans" on your part, and stating that they have never denied that the process removes all molecules of the original active ingredient by the end of the process.

What they believe is that the active ingredient is imprinted on the water's molecular structure through succession, which induces water 'memory' that acts as the healing agent.

Why do denouncers of homeopathy use the Avogadro argument as their best argument. Is this out of ignorance, or intellectual dishonesty? (Oops: False Dichotomy).

As there is always limited time in this type of debate, why don't you just lead with the fact that there have never been any repeatable experiments that can demonstrate that water 'memory' is real, and also point out that the homeopathic remedies are full of inconsistencies in the application of their very own law of 'like cures like'. Even if homeopaths were 100% correct, a lot of the remedies on their shelves are worthless.

Mary said...

Anonymous: Because pee is funny.

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bill777 said...

Well done, Crispian, a fine effort, I liked it.

Good to see a skiptech actually attempting some real experiments rather than just scoffing with the tribe.

It also illuminates with great clarity why so many 'scientific' trials fail to show effect, simply because the correct protocols are not followed, the experiments badly designed.

Succusion, yes (SUCK, Dear Boy!). But you should do it harder & more enthusiastically for good effect.

It really is as 'simple' as that. Once you have studied the details and mastered the technique, that is. Solely a demontration of homeopathic pharmacy, of course, not of the physicianship, which takes a little longer.

I think you'll agree that your attempt at 12c would not have taken the piss completely out. But then the Avogardro is only a thing of likelihood, not a hard & fast thing, in the nature of things.

So, did you feel better for this? I do hope so!

Did you, perchance, check on whether urine is, or has been used in conventional medicine? (Check the BMJ of 1900. Merck used it, too, I'm told.). Of course we all know it is famously used in OTC eyedrops. Epilepsy, anyone?

But that is really urine therapy, one of the oldest medicines known to mankind, topically and internally, probably old when the Veda was written. (An overenthusiastic document, it predicts the health benefits if you keep up drinking your urine for various lengths of time. Drink it for ever, of course, and you will have achieved immortality :-)
Has its uses in Shamanism, too. You'd need to do some study.

The homeopathic applications are more for generalised edema.

Of course, you might conduct what we call a 'proving'. That is, to take the piss (in potency) every day for an excessive time, you would most probably develop the condition. Implausible, I supppose, but most likely anyway. You'd need to keep an accurate diary, of course, or you'd miss the best bits.
Then go to a homeopath to sort yourself out, because the conventionals would seriously damage your wellbeing.


(Why is it that conventional diuretics actually preclude curing the kidneys? Silly me, it's the profits, isn't it?)

If you really want to disprove a proving, try Hyoscyamus 10M (should be weak enough), or Nux Vomica 30, say. Every day ("religiously", as they say).
(Keep using the same potency that is, having an otherwise empty mouth for 10 to 15 minutes before & after, and avoiding aromatic substances like clove or camphor.)
Keep a diary, let us know in a month or so what kind of nothing happens. I'll look forward to that.
Best not look them up a priori, or you might get the psalm 114:9 effect.



Isn't Crispian the patron saint of cobblers, by the way? Some parents!

Anonymous said...

Wow, how very intelligent and tasteful. Next time please note that in homeopathy we may also use dilutions of substances that were originally in solid form. Despite your childish enthusiasm to deal with the products of your bodily functions, do spare us the whole thing.

Technically, you're very far from imitating the way homeopathic remedies are made. You speak of science? Follow the rules then, and visit a homeopathic pharmacy to learn a bit more about how remedies are *really* made (your mispronounciation is just a tiny symptom).

What's more, your (or anyone else's) golden shower, despite being very photogenic, is NOT a remedy.

And one last thing, please note that Charles Darwin himself was cured by homeopathy. Google it directly or visit Dana Ullman's site for more details.

The Science Pundit said...

@Anonymous

Just a bit of advice: if you're going to criticize somebody's mispronunciation, you look more credible if you spell the word correctly.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous

Just because Charles Darwin was 'cured' with homeopathy does not make it magically right... or does it?

Newton practiced Alchemy in the latter part of his life. That does not mean that Alchemy is/was science.

Anonymous said...

Great vid, great website, and a very enjoyable discussion here at the end.

a couple of points;

Our Malaysian doctor could very easily treat 250,000 patients. Lob a cup of Arsnic into the main resevoir of a major city - job done.
He didn't say what he had treated them for. In fact given the number of pisses I've taken whilst out walking over the years, its a fair bet that I have treated the entire population of Manchester.

Anyone know what the homeopathic view is on changing tempriature of the water? If you freeze it or boil it, does the 'memory' still work?

Taf said...

Hi,
very funny !
as a chemistry high school teacher (in France, so excuse my bad english), i of course totally agree BUT:
- medicine is not a science neither : placebo also plays a role
- homeopath (in France) also works on what they call "le terrain" (the field) : they give you advic about your food, and vitamins and oligo-elemnts (not diluted, that's the funnny part). this parts seems better for me !

so, it's true that a 30 C remedy is water. nevertheless, a good advice about your way of life is worth a try. if your homeopath doctor is honest.

Anonymous said...

How could "succussion" be pronounced /sus-suh-shun/? A "c" can't sound like an "s" unless it's followed by an "e", "i" or "y". It would have to be /suk-kuh-shun/ (like "percussion" and "concussion"). If homeopaths say it with "s" sounds, then that's one more idiocy on their part.

Nichiro said...

Homeopathy may not work but drinking your own piss/urine will be sure to work.

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kauto said...

I was wondering what was homeopathy, thanks for clearing that out. It can not not be any clearer than that.

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Anonymous said...

Here's another quandary…Do you believe in God? If you don't and I do, and God's existence cannot not be scientifically proven, would you deem me one of the billions of idiots who choose to believe in something that can't be proven? I wonder if it was years ago that people who frowned on ideas other than their own, let's say like, rocketing to the moon, got to live to see what they poo pooed? It saddens me because I was raised to be open to other peoples ideas and to show respect for the differences. If you watch TV at all I'm sure you have seen all the prescription drug commercials, that dole out enough scientific proof, for even you. Where science based pharmaceutical companies advocate their 'medicine' then give you the warnings for the known side effect that may ensue; which include anything from liver/kidney failure, flu like symptoms, lymphoma (cancer), sore throat, nausea, constipation and erectile disfunction, heart attack and stroke. The irony here, is 5 or 10 years down the line, the science that created it and the FDA will step forward to protect us with NEW evidence, by taking the drug off the market because the statistics went beyond Avogadro's rule on how many people died from it's use. I know of no homeopathic remedy made from your urine. But I do know of a prescription drug made from the urine of pregnant mares. The mare is kept in foul, not allowed out of a stall and is terminally hooked to a catheter and collection bag. The contents is sent to a laboratory where it is used to make a hormone replacement drug made by Pfizer for women called 'Premarin'((PREgnant MARes' urINe)). Sad for the mares as these, science based, Urine Farms have been in use since 1942! Also tragic for the women who developed the side effect such as endometrial cancer, stroke, blood clots, and dementia. It seems to me the real shame is in spending time bashing someone else's ideas. Why not give the energy that you have to something that may improve someone's life. Here's a little trivia…Did you know that Hahnemann was the only M.D. in history to have a statue erected in Washington, DC for his accomplishments in medicine? Show me what you've got, besides piss in a pipette and being the leading man in a home video on UTube.

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