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March 18, 2005

Is homeopathy real?

New Scientist has a fascinating article on 13 things that do not make sense -- scientific phenomena for which no scientific explanation exists.

This doesn't mean science is wrong -- such "problems" are the glory of science. (I'll spare you a diatribe about creationism that could easily be inserted at this point.) It is by investigating these "unexplainable" phenomena that Science expands and grows and deepens our understanding of the universe. It is in exactly this regard that Science differs from religion and superstition -- that which is unexplained is the kernel of further discovery, not an unquestionable tenet of faith.

Item number 4 in the list is particularly fascinating. Homeopathy, which absent any evidence to the contrary I had always placed firmly in the "bunkum" column, appears to have reproducible benefits in scientific experiments. Now, this is interesting! Of course, it doesn't prove that "imprinted" water molecules exist as homeopaths claim -- yet something is providing that benefit. We just don't know what it is yet. And who knows what fruitful science may result from finding out what that something actually is.

Jay, I fear, thinks my mind is closed to all sorts of theories I label bunkum: UFOs, telepathy, homeopathy, etc. That's not true. It's just that absent any concrete evidence -- extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof -- I'll continue to assume there are explanations within known science. But when science can rule out known explanations and we're forced to turn to the unknown, well, that's when science gets really interesting.

Posted by david at March 18, 2005 04:38 PM | TrackBack
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