I Want to Drink a Homeopathic Preparation of HIV-Contaminated Blood

US_Navy_050616-N-7293M-027_Blood_from_a_donor_fills_a_vial_during_a_blood_drive_held_at_the_Naval_Base_Guam_Community_Center“Foolhardy.”

“Reckless ignorance.”

“Darwin Award candidate.”

These are selected phrases from the responses I’ve received during my private inquiries over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been speaking with lab managers, AIDS researchers, and doctors about my plan to make a documentary short film about drawing blood from an HIV-positive patient, properly making a 30C homeopathic dilution of it using safe, legal laboratory procedures, and then drinking it.

Shocking? No, it shouldn’t be, not to anyone who understands the science, and that’s the whole reason I want to do it. While in a CVS drug store the other day, I estimated that about 10% of the products in the over-the-counter drug aisle are labeled “homeopathic.” That is a shocking scam on the public. By definition, these products do not contain any of their “active” ingredient; if they did, they would be drugs, and not homeopathic “preparations.” A video as outrageous as this one would help to educate the public that homeopathic products are completely worthless.

“Use something less deadly,” has been the common suggestion. Use something that’s curable in case something goes wrong. Use something like ricin that doesn’t require the handling of contaminated human blood. I am not moved by these suggestions. Using something less deadly does not shock and terrify the way HIV does. Falling back to a lesser toxin would suggest that there is some risk in doing this with HIV. The mathematical fact is that there is no risk. NO risk. Anyone who understands the science should not be concerned that there is any danger here, assuming proper laboratory procedures are followed. No substitute produces the visceral fear that HIV contaminated blood evokes.

A 30C dilution means the blood would be diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. That’s a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. We’ll start with 1cc of blood and dilute it into 100cc of water, and repeat that process 30 times, which is how a homeopathic dilution of 30C is achieved (it means C, Roman numeral 100, raised to the power of 30). For each of the 30 dilutions we’ll use a brand-new glass container and a brand-new pipette, and each will be properly disposed of after its single use. That original 1cc of blood may have 3,000 cells in it (fewer depending on how ill the donor is) and perhaps 1,000,000 copies of the HIV virus. Halfway through the homeopathic process, at 15C, the chance that a single blood cell will remain in the preparation is 1 in 30,000,000,000,000,000. Add another 30 zeros to that to see what the chances are by the time the preparation reaches 30C. This is not an exaggeration. This is math.

A chemically pure solution is defined by Avogadro’s number, 1023. This solution will be ten trillion trillion trillion times purer than that, if we define purity as meaning free of the original blood. Every 30C homeopathic product is just as free of its so-called “active” ingredients.

There is no risk, at all, in this demonstration. No doctor, mathematician, statistician, or homeopath should be — in the slightest — concerned about its safety, when proper lab procedures are followed. But so far, all that I have spoken to have used language like that at the beginning of this post. Science fans are quick to criticize homeopathy, but when it comes to actually drinking a preparation of HIV-contaminated blood, most are reluctant to put their money where their mouth is. The result? Homeopathic products continue to thrive in the marketplace; enriching charlatans, preying on the sick, and eroding the public intellect.

So let’s talk about where I am in this process.

Basically, I’ve been stonewalled at every step. No lab will participate, even when I assure them the project will have a budget and their lab costs will be covered. Liability and ethics are proving to be the downfall. I need three things:

  1. An HIV positive patient to donate the blood. So far, this has not been a problem. There are many HIV positive skeptics willing to help the cause of scientific skepticism and consumer protection.
  2. A lab that will do this, preferably in southern California. I will pay all expenses like any other customer. There are laws and rules governing the handling of HIV contaminated blood, and I need a lab who will handle all of that.
  3. Money to pay for the above. It will run in the low five-figures, including the lab costs and the film production. This can be crowdfunded, but I’d rather work with discreet private donors. The lab needs to be secured first. If it can be, and private donors have not stepped up, I’ll set up a crowdfunding project if I can find a crowdfunding site that will accept this (problematic in itself).

If you can help with any of the above, please email me privately at brian@skeptoid.com. I will do this, if I can have your help.

About Brian Dunning

Science writer Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid.
This entry was posted in Alternative Medicine, Consumer Ripoffs, Events, Health, Pseudoscience and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

98 Responses to I Want to Drink a Homeopathic Preparation of HIV-Contaminated Blood

  1. Castielstar says:

    It’s certainly a dramatic idea! Homeopathy really does rely on a weird mix of pseudo-science and gut instinct. I agree with you that this would be safe, and would also be willing to test your ‘preparation’. Didn’t someone work out that ‘proper’ homeopathic preparations have 1 molecule of the ‘active’ ingredient to everything else in the solar system combined?! Madness!

  2. Pirate says:

    Is there a chance that the homeopaths will suggest the reason you did not catch HIV is because the preparation actually cured you – albeit of something you did not have?

    • Denis Solaro says:

      That’s exactly how they will think. Either Brian catches something and then they will say “ahahaha, those skeptics don’t understand” or nothing will happen and they will conclude that he’s done the perfect HIV vaccination there can be and that it does work. It’s a system of belief that suicides by homeopathy hasn’t shaken, they always fall back on their legs with a convenient rationalization. “ah but homeopathic preparations only have the good sides”
      Methink Brian is thinking too logically and medically and not enough Hannemanelly on that one.

      • Christian says:

        I tend to agree. People who believe in magic beans will never be convinced by science. They’ll just say the beans you used were not magic enough, or magic in ways you didn’t understand, or you forgot to say the magic words.

    • Pirate, this is exactly what I was thinking. This reminds me of the stunts James Randi used to do in debunking homeopathy. I see a very good point that this experiment would convey: The fact that Brian is willing to do this speaks volumes about the level of homeopathic dilution that those unfamiliar with/ignoring the mathematics would not otherwise understand. Again, it reminds me of when James Randi “overdosed” on the homeopathic sleeping pills to no result, but on a larger, more dramatic scale.

      The problem is, I wonder how many who believe in homeopathy are actually convinced by these demonstrations. Sometimes I’m skeptical about promoting critical thinking (not to the point where I actually want to stop doing it, though) because I wonder if those who tend to believe superstitiously are just dead-set on rationalizing it to the point of no return, in most cases.

  3. Jussi Lahtinen says:

    Premise for the math is that the blood mixes evenly to the water. But I don’t think that will be a problem. And anyway it would be pretty low risk to get HIV even from drop of actual blood!

    Just make sure the preparation isn’t made by some psychopathic homeopath who really hates you!

    I would guess crowdfunding sites would be OK with this (there are actually really immoral projects, scams). Just advertise it as educational video.

  4. You are forgetting the “like cures like” principle, according to their stupid this would CURE you of HIV not give it to you.

    • Loki says:

      Yeah I was gonna say the same thing.

      Drinking homeopathic solutions of things that they consider bad and poisonous is the point of homeopathy.

      If you were gonna hurt yourself by homeopathic logic you should probably drink a homeopathic solution of vitamin C because that might ‘cure’ not having a vitamin C deficiency or well you get my point, this won’t say anything to homeopaths that they don’t already twistedly believe.

  5. Martin Beck says:

    HIV is a very fragile virus. I could find no cases of anyone being infected with hiv by swallowing the virus. It’s not as contagious as most people think.I think you could safely swallow the blood without even diluting it, Of course, open sores in your mouth might make it dangerous.

  6. Bron Perna says:

    I want to drink a homeopathic solution of aquatic creature waste! …oh hang on…..

  7. Christian says:

    That’s a brilliant idea, in terms of catching attention and proving the obvious point. You may not know this, although I did mention it in discussing another post on homoeopathy, but, you can buy Melatonin over the counter in the USA, and I used to use it for jetlag ( used to come to the USA four times a year ). I used to buy it in Australia, too, but, it became illegal to sell without prescription. Immediately, homoeopathic melatonin appeared on the shelves. I bought some, accidentally, and worked it out when it didn’t work. What astonished me, was the quest I went on to find melatonin, and the number of chemists who tried to sell me this stuff, who did not understand that it literally contained no melatonin. I’d show them the label and ask where it says how many milligrams of melatonin was in each tablet. They had no idea. A few chemists did not carry it, or any other quack medicine, and they are the ones I go to, now. It was a real eye opener.

    • nelson says:

      That’s not how Homeopathic cures work. Before I begin I am not saying that i believe they work or don’t work I’m just saying what they say about the method. Say you want to cure a person with nausea. What you don’t do is use a substance that actually cure nausea, you start with something that actually makes you nauseous, then make your 30 or 100x formula. The idea being that some substance that causes a symptom will relieve it when you dilute it a trillion times. Once again I don’t necessarily buy into it.

      • Christian says:

        Nelson: yes, several people have commented that according to the principles of homeopathy, it should be a cure.

  8. Jezzaaaa says:

    Brian, kudos for standing by your trust in science and mathematics. Like fear of the dark, we need knowledge and understanding to help us dispell our irrational fears.

    My concern with your plan is that reality is generally a lot more messy than science theory, with confounding variables and unexpected factors coming into play. Things that work in the lab often don’t work so well in the real world.

    Probability in real life is a lot more lumpy than we tend to imagine. For example, if you were to emulate the dilution procedure with a bucket of balls “dissolved” in air by pulling a handfull of balls out of one bucket to put into the next bucket, each dilution would tend to have more balls than the maths would suggest. At the extreme, starting with a single ball in the bucket, you would likey pull out the ball and put it into the next bucket, because of gravity and your hand’s tendency to go towards the bottom and grab objects rather than air.

    What if the solute doesn’t disperse evenly in the solvent and settles towards the bottom of the test tube? What if the pipette action of low-pressure tends to pull in more of one substance than another? What if the blood tends to glob together in the test tube, just where the pipette tip goes in so the pipette pulls in more of it than if it were evenly dispersed? What if the blood settles to the bottom of the pipette so that the first drop entirely (or unevenly) consists of blood?

    These are only a few questions off the top of my head. And I’m not a physical chemist or lab biologist experienced with the way stuff actually works. There are likely to be other artefacts to the dilution procedure that you and I haven’t considered.

    In the end, I wonder if this won’t convince anyone of anything. Like the great homeopathy overdose campaign, people just shrug their shoulders and say “this proves that its natural and safe” or “homeopathy just doesn’t work that way” and move on, comfortable in their confirmation bias. The skeptics know the implications, but will it influence any sizeable proportion of the general public? I don’t know either way. This could be a big enough stunt that you gain the exposure that’s needed to call out this quackery in the public consciousness. I hope so.

    I hope it works out just like you expect it to. Something needs to be done about this particularly “virulent” and dangerous form of alt med.

    • Sean Nanoman says:

      You’re certainly not a chemist and I won’t hold that against you. :) Trust me when I say that we never worry about ‘settling’ in the pipette. You need to realize that a solution is not a ‘few balls’ but rather trillions of trillions (assuming much less than one mole) of molecules all being mixed constantly by the thermal jostling of Brownian motion as well as the mechanical mixing of the dilution process. The effect you are describing is known as Maxwell’s Demon. It is a thought experiment about natural events suddenly happening simultaneously and doesn’t occur in reality. Rest assured the blood component will be effectively diluted to zero quite easily. I am certain that the original solution or sample would contain thinners or at least some water to keep it fluid.

      As you stated I too hope this ‘stunt’ brings some light to the homeopathic sham.

    • nelson says:

      “Virulent and dangerous form or alt med”

      Oh you must mean from all the deaths for this particular form of medicine? Oh wait there aren’t any deaths from Homeopathic medicine. Doesn’t matter for the moment if they work or not, at least they don’t kill anyone. How could they as you point out ad nauseum they don’t have any active ingredient in them how could they?

      What about this:

      In a June 2010 report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, study authors said that in looking over records that spanned from 1976 to 2006 (the most recent year available) they found that, of 62 million death certificates, almost a quarter-million deaths were coded as having occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors.
      An estimated 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events occur in the U.S. every year.
      The costs of adverse drug reactions to society are more than $136 billion annually — greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care.

      Which is the “Virulent and Dangerous” form of medicine? Me thinks it is Doctor recommended DRUGS.

      Don’t give me the bullshit about ripping off consumers with pseudoscience when so called science based medicine has these kinds of statistics.

      • Christian says:

        I thought you said you didn’t necessarily believe it ? Homoeopathy does harm by stopping people from taking medicine that works. It does no direct harm as it is literally worthless. It is the definition of a placebo

        • nelson says:

          I don’t believe in Homeopathics and I don’t believe in drugs either, for the most part, with the exception of antibiotics (which are being overused and therefore dangerous) None of them are cures, and are merely dealing with symptoms and ameliorating them. Did you know that a report in 1959 given to congress reported that cancer patients that received no chemo or radiation lived longer then patients that did? Gives you a lot of faith in those drugs huh? And when you say medicine that works, works to do what? Make someone feel better? Mediate a complaint? They certainly aren’t curing anyone of anything.

          • Christian says:

            OK, we just crossed a line in to stupid, and I’m history. You believe no drug cures any disease, ever ? wow.

          • Christian says:

            AND that cancer treatment today is in the same state it was in the 1950s ? Double wow.

          • nelson says:

            Christian, you apparently have always existed in and therefore didn’t have to cross over into STUPID. You don’t know any of the statistics on disease cures or their lack thereof. Have you noticed that MOST DISEASES are on the rise? Guess not. That the cancer rate for instance has multiplied many times since 1900 so that now we are expected to get cancer one in three. You can see the same rise in virtually every major disease. I guess you either never knew that little fact or forgot it. The last time they cured a disease was Polio and they certainly learned their lesson about the financial ramifications of doing that and never did it again, Oh, but the war on (insert name of disease here) goes on.

            Interesting that you ask the question about the state of the cancer treatment today compared to the 1950’s NOT the CURE rate, which is abysmal. A mega meta study tracking hundreds of thousands of cancer patients showed that the post 5 year ( the AMA loves to use 5 year not any longer time frames because of obvious reasons) survival rate was 1.3% Yes you read that right Christian. Maybe you’re not stupid, but you are ignorant. Triple WOW.

      • nelson says:

        I’d like to quote from this article using the highlighted text but with a twist
        that happens to be true:

        Doctor recommended drug products continue to thrive in the marketplace; enriching charlatans, preying on the sick, and eroding the public intellect.

      • Nissim Hadar says:

        Just out of curiosity – how many lives did conventional medical treatment save during this period. You must have omitted this minor detail by accident.
        Oh, and perhaps you should also add the number of people who died needlessly, because they weren’t treated by modern medicine.

        • Christian says:

          I’m surprised how many people are confused by the simple fact that people all eventually die.

          • nelson says:

            And die earlier then necessary if they trust Medical doctors. May be you can tell me Christian, which disease, except for Polio as I mentioned above have been eradicated by drugs I am at a loss to think of even one? I am also not referring to bacterial problems that are cured by antibiotics.

          • Nissim Hadar says:

            nelson
            my son’s life was saved by medicine after a deadly scorpion bite. My eye-sight was saved by antibiotics. I could give you billions of example.
            Modern medicine has saved vastly more lives than it has harmed. It is not perfect. Homeopathy is perfect – perfect crap. I know personally 2 people that believed that crap and died from curable diseases.

            Cancer is on the rise, for the simple reason that we are living much longer than before.

        • nelson says:

          Then maybe you can tell me? And how many people could have been treated with no side effect treatments like vitamins or herbs or a gazillion other options that have been suppressed by the AMA or the FDA? DRUG therapy doesn’t cure shit Nissim don’t you get that?

          • nelson says:

            I didn’t say i thought homeopathy is the greatest thing since sliced bread did I? Your examples of a scorpion bite and an eye infection are exactly what I was excluding from my question, they aren’t diseases. So the question remains which diseases have been eradicated Nissim? You can’t answer the question because there are none. And will never be one as long as the present system is in place. I know of at least 10 cancer cures that work but you have never heard of them and your doctor hasn’t either. Why? Because they have been vilified and suppressed and kept hidden. Yes I know people who have used them and have been cured, to preempt you next question. All with virtually no side effects by the way. Do some research on this to see what’s out there. The AMA can’t stop something with the momentum that some of these cures have been gathering. Medical Marijuana is one example.

          • Nissim Hadar says:

            “I know of at least 10 cancer cures that work but you have never heard of them and your doctor hasn’t either”

            You have been lied to, or you are a liar. Your choice.

          • nelson says:

            Nissim, thanks for a perfect example of a False Dichotomy thereby making the comment useless. You are also arrogant.

  9. James Waite says:

    If HIV could be passed using a solution so highly diluted outside the body then most of us would probably have caught it by now. The hard part of the demonstration will be to hit the ground running and market the message behind the it.
    Maybe we could take samples from homeopathic practitioners and make a homeopathic solution. If we gave enough people the homeopathic solution we might cure the world of homeopathic practitioners.

  10. Paul Ruggeri says:

    I think the real problem with this, Brian, is that HIV is a rather fragile virus and doesn’t survive for long outside of a living host. It probably won’t survive the process of dilution, or any handling or storage before or after preparation, never mind the fact that there just isn’t any of it THERE afterwards.

  11. Edward Rothschild says:

    I think it would make more sense to give the 30C solution to an AIDS patient and see if it cured him. These nuts think not merely that the solution is safe but that it is effective. You might prove that it is safe, but that does not disprove the second claim: that it is effective. In fact, homeopaths will point to your film as proof of the safety of their magic formula.

    • Nissim Hadar says:

      Edward – you are exactly right. The experiment will only enforce homeopathic beliefs. That is beside the point that the “experiment” cannot prove anything, as it can only provide an anecdotal case.

  12. Argent47 says:

    I once wrote to the editor of a health book that included a chapter on homeopathy. I noted that the “content” of a 30C dilution was equal to one nucleon out of the mass of 270,000,000 copies of the entire Earth.
    I was not accorded even the courtesy of a reply, much less an attempt at refutation. Willful ignorance is the worst kind, I say….

    • nelson says:

      And so because you didn’t get a reply from the editor of a book you say that he is willfully ignorant? WOW talk about the pot calling the kettle black! You can’t be serious. How do you even know if he got the letter? You know what they say about if the shoe fits don’t you?

  13. Jeff Grigg says:

    Best information I could find indicates that drinking undiluted blood from an HIV-positive donor (in small quantities) would have a risk of about 0.04% or less of transmitting the disease. It doesn’t take much dilution to reduce that risk to effectively zero — particularly if you haven’t bit your tongue or have any cold sores or unhealthy gums. It’s nearly impossible to catch HIV from sharing a toothbrush *every night* with an HIV-positive partner, for example.

    So we’re talking about a fairly low risk, even before practically infinite dilution.

    You might end up with more risk from breathing the air while in the same room as an HIV-positive person. (IE: effectively zero.)

    .

    And for people who claim that any risk above absolute zero is unacceptable … Have you driven or ridden in a car recently?!?!?!?!?!?

    • “And for people who claim that any risk above absolute zero is unacceptable … Have you driven or ridden in a car recently?!?!?!?!?!?”

      This reminds me of how, at its core, obsessive-compulsive disorder (which I believe I had as a child) is about inability to tolerate uncertainty. The funny part, and realization that leads to recovery, is that all of us tolerate types of uncertainty every day. For instance, a person with OCD who feels the need to wash their hands repeatedly to gain assurance that they are clean, cannot tolerate the thought of there “maybe” still being germs — even though that same person may be willing and not even think of the risk of “maybe” getting into a car accident. Perhaps all of us have the tendency to overlook certain, less obvious, forms of uncertainty more than others.

    • Sean Nanoman says:

      I was searching the comments for someone to have said this. There is a common misunderstanding that the HIV virus is strong and capable of surviving on its own. In fact outside of the body it is extremely fragile and is destroyed within minutes. Stomach acid would surely cause its demise quickly. In fact many simple chemicals would kill it easily. The reason we don’t know how to get rid of it is that it hides inside the immune system extremely well. Spreading the virus is actually ‘difficult’ (yet very easy in the right specific circumstances). Without direct contact with the cells of a persons immune system this virus will not spread. Drinking it would be safe…and really gross. I would have to assume if Brian goes ahead with the challenge that he will be searching for a donor who is not taking medication and therefore has a detectable viral load. Most people in our part of the world who are aware they are HIV+ take their medications and therefore would have no measurable amount of virus in their blood. Plus you never know, right? What if it actually works. (so kidding)

  14. Erik von Stedingk says:

    Brian, I see your point and, by all means, go ahead. Most people who buy homeopathic preparations don’t know or care about the “principles” the homeopaths work by; they may be persuaded by your stunt and stop buying the stuff.

    You won’t convince the homeopaths though. And anyone that would attempt to shove your experiment up their collective noses, would easily be dismissed. According to the way they think, a high concentration of X can be deadly but when you dilute it their way, it becomes more and more its opposite. Pure gobbledygook of course but that’s how they think. So they would say you’ve just made the worlds strongest anti-HIV drug, congratulate you and not be the slightest worried over the dangers.

    In order to maybe impress *this* crew you would need to take something extremely beneficial and dilute this into a poison. The problem of course is that it’s a typical pseudoscience: there is no proof that will ever be accepted. Playing around with their own concepts however, with the “curious crowd” as target, would weaken their arguments and fewer might fall in their trap.

    • Jeff Grigg says:

      Right; by their logic, a homeopathic HIV-positive blood remedy would cure HIV. So the fact that you (continue to) test negative to HIV after taking it would be consistent with their beliefs — which would be that the only thing it could do to you was to cure you of HIV.

      The only real “logic” of these believers seems to be be that “homeopathic” = “natural” = “good”. And it says “remedy” on the bottle, so it must do something good.

      Evidence is irrelevant. Trust and belief are everything.

      • Erik von Stedingk says:

        An interesting project would be if one could get a number of homeopaths to agree on what would constitute a dangerous C30 preparation. Maybe con them into suggesting something.

        Alas, they tend to subscribe to *both* the signature doctrine *and* the similarity principle, whatever suits them best, although these are kind of mutually exclusive… :-)

        Nevertheless I think this would be a better way to stir up an interesting commotion as it could pitch homeopaths against homeopaths too.

        • Jeff Grigg says:

          I don’t see how the Signature Doctrine and the Similarity Principle are convincingly contradictory or mutually exclusive. If one thinks that a plant with parts shaped like a foot will cure or cause problems in the foot, then using it in a homeopathic remedy to cure foot problems would be logically consistent because “God made the plant have that shape to show you what you should do.” And it’s not hard to suggest to test subjects that, when given larger doses from the plant, that their feet should hurt.

          So really…
          All you need is a widespread consensus that some homeopathic remedy *should* be harmful in some cases. But that very concept is contrary to their beliefs. So you’re stuck.

          • Erik von Stedingk says:

            Ok, maybe I got the signature idea wrong. I meant to say that in one case there is a hint as to what it would be good for and they go ahead and dilute it. In the other, there is a nefarious effect that, when diluted, turns into its opposite. “Kinda” exclusive maybe. :-)

            I looked up some antivirals: why not dilute Atripla, Complera or Trii? With a sufficiently diluted solution, HIV should materialise out of every pore of the body.

            Not sure they couldn’t come up with something considered dangerous. If they can get all carried away about how extremely potent something is, there should be a rationale to this excitement. They might have an excuse later but not before facing at least some embarrassment.

  15. George Kanakaris says:

    You are going at great lenghts to disprove something that ‘cannot work’.
    Why , i ask you…

    • Because there is a lot of dumbheads tnat believe that it works?

      • George Kanakaris says:

        Luc Montagnier ,virologist and Nobel Prize winner is a dumbhead?
        Immunologist Jacques Benveniste , is a dumbhead ?
        Theoretical physicist and professor emeritus of physics , Nobel Prize winner , is a dumbhead ?
        Mahatama Gandhi,J.D Rockefeller,Mark Twain,Goethe,Charles Dickens,Darwin , all dumbheads ?

        • Christian says:

          Apparently. Actually, Gandhi and Mark Twain are not people who you’d have any reason to expect knew anything about medicine, let alone Goethe. That’s a stupid list, it proves nothing. Yes, sometimes people are talented in one area, but not smart or well informed in another.

          I am sure a list of smart people who have won prizes, and people who wrote books and so on, who also don’t use quack medicine, could be compiled. How does a list of duelling ‘experts’ prove anything ? I don’t care who believed something, I only care if it’s true.

          • George Kanakaris says:

            But they are dumbheads , right ?

          • Christian says:

            George, I researched some of those names, they almost all lived long enough ago to be excused for falling for homoeopathy. What Jeff said is true. I disagree with the use of ‘dumbheads’ for the simple reason that everyone is ‘dumb’ about some things, for all sorts of reasons, and it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change what is true.

            A better answer would be, insurers covering homoeopathy for purely market reasons, are used as a reason to believe it is valid treatment, creating a cycle that causes the uninformed to place faith in what is essentially magic, with no evidence that it works ( anecdotes are not evidence, it works no better than placebo, as you’d expect, given that homoeopathic medicine is chemically identical to a placebo ), and this causes people to both stay sick because they don’t get real treatment, and pours money in to what is essentially a scam, even if everyone who follows it, sincerely believes otherwise.

          • Jeff Grigg says:

            Every single one of us here on earth is a “dumb head” in some ways at some times. You can put a “halo” on some people who have achieved recognition in some field and make claims that they are “better human beings” and hence unable to error in any area of human endeavor. But that turns out to be an error-prone approach, due to the properties of human nature.

            For example, regardless of how great an Olympic athlete a person may be, they might still have incorrect and misleading opinions about the effectiveness of vaccines. Even within a person’s area of specialization and expertise, one can still be wrong about major things: It seems that Einstein turned out to be wrong about major aspects of quantum physics. Others, a great many others, have been quite successful in pursuing ideas that Einstein himself declared to be nonsense. None of us humans is perfect.

            That’s why we rely on a “census among the experts.” We seem to do best by looking at multiple independent confirmations in experiments that we make as objective and unbiased as we can. And we do well by relying on the things that well-informed specialists in the respective fields (“the experts”) *agree upon* — rather than picking some “favorite” expert and believing absolutely everything they say.

        • Noah Dillon says:

          I’ll totally cop to being a dumb head. I don’t believe in homeopathy, and I do believe in the usefulness of science in guiding people toward effective, safe ways of accomplishing goals like launching rocketships and treating disease and figuring out how life arose. But I am totally a dumb head about a lot of stuff. And just because a lot of other really talented and smart dumb heads that I appreciate for other contributions to society believe in something doesn’t make it true. That’s just how human dumb head fallibility works. Sucks, right? I don’t care if all those people believe the moon is made of vaporized sour cream—it doesn’t make them right.

          • George Kanakaris says:

            Virologists,immunologists, physicists,Nobel Prize winners , are simply smart dumbheads.
            I don’t use or know anything about homeopathy , but it works for some people , children and animals for some problems.The fact that real scientists are willing to look into it , should be applauded.
            Just look at the placebo effect , it should not exist , but it does.

          • Christian says:

            The placebo effect does not cure cancer. It does not heal broken bones. It means ‘I have a vague ache and because I believe this medicine works, I feel better’. In one study, two groups were given aspirin, and told it was a new drug. One was told it would sell for $20, the other for $2. The people who thought it would cost more, reported more benefit. It’s just that some things are at least partially in our minds and so our state of mind impacts on how we experience them.

        • George Kanakaris says:

          Oh, forgot one : W.C. Fields

  16. Ya I like it, but my first thought was inject it don’t drink it for more impact. However you would have to sterilize to safely inject.

    • Yes; I asked a virologist about this who also noted that injection would be a much better method of infection (hey, that sounds like a Schoolhouse Rock song), because drinking HIV would not be a good way to catch it unless one had cuts or sores in the mouth.

      • Noah Dillon says:

        Brian’s pointed out elsewhere that homeopathic curatives are intended to be taken orally, so that bit of extra drama is lost in this demonstration.

        • Jeff Grigg says:

          And it’s also been noted that according to the homeopathic “law of similars”, a homeopathic “remedy” made with an HIV invective vector would cure HIV, not cause it. And this is quite aside from their assumption that homeopathic “remedies” can only help, and never harm.

          So really, the demonstration can only “work” (in terms of having some convincing effect) on people who have some minimal working knowledge of modern germ (and virus) theory.

          Fortunately, most people do. And most people who use homeopathy seem to have very little understanding of it. So these demonstrations often do have a practical positive effect.

  17. shanedk says:

    Even if this doesn’t convince a single homeopath, it would be great to help people understand statistics and the phenomenon of humans greatly exaggerating low risk dangers, even risks so low they can’t be expected to happen once in the lifespan of the universe. And here we see it happening, even in academia, even among professional scientists.

    Here’s a great link explaining the problem: http://lesswrong.com/lw/ml/but_theres_still_a_chance_right/

  18. Torchwood says:

    Upon a time my Uncle Mack bethought a question to himself: Will a .22 caliber bullet fired from a pistol go through the reinforced toe of a steel-toed boot? His experiment was to fire a round from a pistol at the toe of his steel-toed boot.

    While wearing the boot.

    The anwer is: yes.

    Homeoapathy non-withstanding, playing with HIV is not the best idea you have ever had. Too many variable to completely control, in my opinion.

  19. Workng In A Cop Shop says:

    Brian, if you really want to demo the useless-ness of homeopathy with something that can kill, please use the H1N1 virus. If any of the preparation is faulty you will come down with a potentially fatal disease that can be treated.

    The demo proposed is, however, preaching only to the choir

    I know that you know that people who are rabid homeopathy fans are notoriously hard of listening and no amount of realistic information will dent their enthusiasm a bit.

    I support leaving the fans of useless medicine to themselves to win their Darwin Award in any way they see fit.

  20. Joseph says:

    My first reaction was actually that HIV may not be scary enough. I was thinking ebola, or maybe polonium. Either way, I’m in for $20 if it comes to crowd funding.

    It’s an interesting piece of cognitive dissonance that I still want to comment on your courage, when I am aware that understanding of the process negates the requirement for courage.

  21. jeffman12 says:

    Use Indiegogo, they’ve shown they have no ethics.

  22. I can’t see the point in all this. You want to drink some diluted blood of a HIV+ patient, but why? Nothing will happen, but this doesn’t prove or disprove anything regarding homeopathy. And it won’t, I think, turn a single believer away from homeopathy.

    It’s like eating the sacramental bread and concluding: “See, I didn’t turn into Jesus, SO THERE IS NO GOD!”

    Or something like this..

    Keep up the great work though. :)

    Regards
    Oli

    • Jeff Grigg says:

      Of course it wouldn’t prove anything. Nor could it “turn” any true believer.

      It could only impress people who (largely without thinking) accept the broad strokes of Homeopathy as “natural” and “alternative” — but also have a common rough understanding and acceptance of Western medicine and conventional doctors: The shock of “I’m going to drink AIDS!” with “…but it has *NO RISK* because it’s truly homeopathic.” should wake some people up to the conflict of beliefs between “my doctor is good” vs “my friend says homeopathy is safe and good.” It should startle some people into actually giving some thought to the matter.

      • Still don’t get it.

        I can’t see where drinking diluted infected blood could cause a “shock” that leads to the questioning of homeopathy. I just cannot see the connection.

        Many homeopathic “incrediences” would cause harm and/or death if actually ingested in a certain dose.

  23. Rich Guano says:

    I save give the homeopathic HIV remedy to the HIV-positive patient who donated the blood. “What’s the harm?”

  24. John Wetherill says:

    If you get it set up, let me know, and I will up the ante by injecting it. If homeopathy works, I should then be the first man to be invincible to HIV!

  25. Jezzaaaa says:

    Sean, thanks for your insight.

  26. I thinbk such Homeopathic remedy already exists. – seem to remember reading about it a while back.

  27. and if so, it doesn’t really prove anything. Except it is not harmful, and they will most likly postulate that you are now immune on some level…. so to follow through, you need to infect yourself hereafter, which obviously would be ludicrous.

    • And, in such a remedy (no matter how diluted) the virus will be dead anyways and thus harmless to ingest….. so really, you prove nothing, and your stunt is easily dismissed.

      I just don’t get it.

      • nelson says:

        Thanks Jussi I feel much better about all those deaths now that I understand the cost benefit analysis. I’m going to go dig up all those prescriptions that I ignored because I was able to find a natural cure (using either vitamins or herbs) for some problems I was having and go fill them immediately now that I know that the risk of death is worth it. There are other options other then Homeopathics Jussi.

      • nelson says:

        So you have investigated the Graviola story and you found it not to be true? Or I suspect you just use your magic wand and pronounce something a conspiracy theory that you don’t know anything about? Yeah you’re a real scientist alright that’s obvious.

        The cancer survival rate (post 5 years) TODAY is 1.3% and that makes chemo better then in 1959 how? Now I know how science works they make better drugs that kill you even faster then 50 years ago.

        Your out? that is a good thing you have nothing useful to add to this discussion. You hide behind a false perception that your are doing real science and anyone who disagrees with your OPINION doesn’t understand how science works? I would bet I have light years more knowledge how science works then you Christian.

        • Christian says:

          *sigh* I’ll answer that. No, I am a busy person and I’ve looked in to enough nutball cancer cures that I can’t be bothered any more. Cancer survival means what ? Lived another 20 years, or eventually died of something else ? Because cancer rates are growing for the simple reason that so many other things have been eradicated, and everyone dies of something. A figure like ‘change in years lived after a cancer diagnosis’ would be a better metric than ‘didn’t end up dying of cancer at all’.

          • nelson says:

            So you admit that you haven’t looked into Graviola and whether or not it has any worth but still feel that you have the authority to make pronouncements on it’s value? Yep Christian you just ooze the scientific method alright.

            Hey maybe you can do some book reviews without reading them too, boy I wish I was you. NOT.

            You should be embarrassed for making such utterly moronic statements.

  28. Jussi says:

    @ Nelson

    “How could they as you point out ad nauseum they don’t have any active ingredient in them how could they?”

    They kill by false trust. IE when people use them to treat serious conditions, which would require real medicine.

    “Which is the “Virulent and Dangerous” form of medicine? Me thinks it is Doctor recommended DRUGS.”

    You have fundamental misunderstanding here.
    Every medical operation, drug, etc is always risk versus benefit consideration. There is no prefect medicines, but it is rational to take the medicine if it lowers the overall risk of harm (by lowering more the harm caused by the disease).

    So, when millions people take low risk medicines, harm is statistically bound to happen. Still it’s better to take the medicine (assuming the risk versus benefit consideration is done correctly).

  29. Jussi says:

    “I’m going to go dig up all those prescriptions that I ignored because I was able to find a natural cure (using either vitamins or herbs) for some problems I was having and go fill them immediately now that I know that the risk of death is worth it.”

    Only thing vitamins cure is vitamin deficiency. What kind of deadly drugs the prescribed for that!
    Generally speaking herbs are only placebo. That is the reason why doctors don’t prescribe them. But if they really happen to work, and they are not too dangerous, then they become as normal medical drugs (the famous example, among many, is willow bark and aspirin [which is in the limits of being too dangerous for its use, in modern standards]).

  30. Jussi says:

    “Thanks Jussi I feel much better about all those deaths now that I understand the cost benefit analysis.”

    Oh, and obviously you didn’t understand at all what I wrote. I didn’t even mentioned cost benefit analysis! I wrote about risk analysis, which is done only for the benefit of patient.

  31. Jussi says:

    Nelson, you ask which diseases are eradicated by modern medicine? And then you categorically exclude bacteria and virus diseases (antibiotics and vaccines)! That excludes huge list of human diseases!

    OK, how about just cured? From people I personally know:
    – testicular cancer
    – bad eye sight (by laser)
    – appendicitis
    – tear in meniscus
    – parasitic infection
    – thrombosis
    – heart arrhythmia

    And I’m sure there are a lot more I just don’t remember quickly.
    BTW. which diseases have those herbs you are talking about eradicated?

    Then some diseases which are symptomless (or almost symptomless) thanks to modern medicine:
    – asthma
    – atopic dermatitis
    – diabetes
    – blood pressure
    – etc etc

    Just because we don’t yet can or know how to cure them permanently doesn’t mean it’s because evilness of the doctors. The claim is just pure ignorance.

    • nelson says:

      Talk about ignorant, you personify the word and downright stupid as well. First I didn’t say Modern Medicine which includes more then just drugs. I said what DRUGS cure any diseases. Then you list mostly non diseases but conditions like bad eye sight as a disease and curing that with a laser is hardly a intelligent response to that question.

      testicular cancer Usually cured by removing the testicle not drugs.

      – bad eye sight (by laser) this doesn’t need any response and it isn’t a disease knucklehead

      – appendicitis maybe classified as a disease but usually cured by removing the organ not with drugs there are no healing of the appendix protocols, just removal.

      – tear in meniscus another stupid inclusion, need i mention once again that it isn’t a disease? Surgery is usually the answer not drugs. Boy this is getting repetitious

      – parasitic infection may be cured with antibiotics which I began this discussion by not including it is not a disease.

      – thrombosis is not a disease but an condition that has no cure but they use Coumarins, Vitamin K antagonists, and anticoagulants that can be taken orally to reduce thromboembolic occurrence. Not a cure for the condition

      – heart arrhythmia a symptom of possibly Coronary artery disease. Not a disease in itself and the Drugs used to control the symptoms don’t cure the cause.

      Let me add some “Diseases” that you left off your imbecilic list: the disease of gun shot wounds, the disease of car accidents, the disease of knife stabbings, the disease of snake bites, the disease of falling down steps, the disease of stubbing your toe.

      “which diseases have those herbs you are talking about eradicated?”

      Bilberry for seeing halos in lights, Vitamin K for bleeding hemorrhoids, L- Arganine for leg pain. All with no side effects. If I I had something else I would find a natural cure for that as well. If I were in a trauma situation I would go to the doctor then but not for diseases they suck at it .

      – asthma
      – atopic dermatitis
      – diabetes
      – blood pressure
      – etc etc All treated to alleviate the symptoms not cured, going to the doctor will by necessity make you avoid some real cures that do exist for Asthma, Diabetes and high blood pressure. Atopic dermatitis has no cure and you only manage outbreaks. I lived with witnessing this as my father had it his whole life.

      I never said doctors were evil, don’t put words in my mouth. Pharmaceutical companies are evil, doctors are for the most part merely brain washed just like you Jussi.

      so all in all you proved yourself to be the ignorant one but more than that you don’t listen and you distort what i have said which makes you a moron as well. Three strikes and you are out.

      • nelson says:

        One final note I won’t be responding to any more of your idiotic comments it takes too long to itemize all the dumb things you say and respond to each and every one of them.
        Good luck in you religious belief in doctors.

      • Christian says:

        My favourite quote. ‘alternative medicine is medicine that does not work. If it works, where-ever it comes from, it becomes medicine, because it’s proven to work, and that’s the only test that exists to be accepted as a form of medicine’.

        Chemo does cure cancer. It always has, once it was understood ( the first cancer treated was leakemia, and they stopped the treatment too early so resistant strains came back and killed the patient ). Modern medicine is more than just drugs, but the sum total of modern medicine comprises of all the treatments proven to work.

        • nelson says:

          Wrong Christian, medicine only becomes widely used if the pharmaceutical companies can patent a substance, it has nothing at all to do with if it works. Just because you don’t see doctors using some herb or other is not because it doesn’t work it is strictly because they couldn’t find a way to synthesize the active ingredient and therefore patent it, no other reason.

          Let me tell you a story about Graviola a tree found in south America whose twigs and bark have 10,000 times the cancer killing properties of chemo but does no harm to normal cells. A major pharmaceutical company spent 7 years and many millions of dollars to research the stuff and try to find a way to patent the active ingredients but were unsuccessful. So they packed up and left town. However one of the scientists working on the project expecting the company to announce the success of Graviola to cure cancer was amazed to find that they had no intention on doing that. If they couldn’t make any money from it they were going to bury it. (this in one example of why I say they are evil) So he became a whistle blower and brought the substance to a natural remedies company telling them about it’s ability to cure cancer and other problems. That is why we now know about it and why you can’t get it from your doctor as doctors can only prescribe, by law what the AMA allows and nothing else. Again not because these things don’t work but because they do. Look up Royal Rife, Joanna Budwig, Max Gershon, Cesium Chloride, Protocell, Rick Simpson oil. Dr. Bryzinsky, Hulda Clark. the list can go on and on every one on this list has been harangued and forced out of business. They all have a long list of people that have been cured not hurt by their methods.

          People live longer when not subjecting themselves to chemo or radiation then the people who do. A report to congress told about that as early as 1959.

          The after 5 year survival rate using chemo and radiation is 1.3%. Chemo cures cancer? It is a sledge hammer that kills the patient. There are many other and better choices to cure cancer and most other conditions and diseases that really work, despite what some brain dead and brain washed people on this blog say.

          • Christian says:

            “:A report to congress told about that as early as 1959″ and again, this comment shows you have no idea how science works. Chemo today is better than it was then.

            Sorry, the rest is stupid conspiracy theories. I’m out.

      • Nissim Hadar says:

        I agree that drugs can cure only a small number of diseases, especially when YOU define a disease as something that drugs don’t cure.

        Fact is, drugs do cure some diseases, and more importantly, they prevent many deadly diseases.

        Fact is, drugs have tripled life expectancy.

        Fact is, drugs greatly improve the life of those living with diseases.

        Fact is, homeopathy is run by companies many times more evil than drug companies.

        Fact is, homeopathy has been clinically tested and proven to be worth than useless.

        Fact is, you LIED about knowing about 10 cures for cancer.

        Enjoy your life.

  32. Jussi says:

    @ Nelson

    By definition of word “disease”, you are wrong (except tear in meniscus is more like injury).
    http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/disease

    “I said what DRUGS cure any diseases.”

    Yes, after excluding almost all dieases cured by drugs!

    “- bad eye sight (by laser) this doesn’t need any response and it isn’t a disease knucklehead”

    But seeing halos is in your definiton?

    “- thrombosis is not a disease but an condition that has no cure but they use Coumarins, Vitamin K antagonists, and anticoagulants that can be taken orally to reduce thromboembolic occurrence.”

    Depending on thrombosis, it can be cured with heparin.

    “- heart arrhythmia a symptom of possibly Coronary artery disease. Not a disease in itself and the Drugs used to control the symptoms don’t cure the cause.”

    Heart arrhytmia can be symptom of many diseases, some of them can be cured by drugs and some with surgery.

    “the disease of gun shot wounds, the disease of car accidents, the disease of knife stabbings, the disease of snake bites, the disease of falling down steps, the disease of stubbing your toe.”

    Gun shot wounds etc can cause diseases example to gut and liver. Otherwise people usually talk about injuries. You just wrote this in silly way, it doesn’t make it wrong.

    “Bilberry for seeing halos in lights,”

    There are many reason for this condition, from deficiencies to serious diseases. It’s ridiculous to claim bilberries could cure them all.

    “L- Arganine for leg pain”

    And why did you have leg pain?

    “Atopic dermatitis has no cure and you only manage outbreaks. I lived with witnessing this as my father had it his whole life.”

    For some people drugs does cure it (although you will usually need to continue the medication).

    “I never said doctors were evil, don’t put words in my mouth. Pharmaceutical companies are evil, doctors are for the most part merely brain washed just like you Jussi.”

    OK, my misunderstanding. Why you think doctors are brain washed? Because they rely on science?

  33. Jussi says:

    @ Nelson

    The Graviola tree.
    Firstly, graviola tree is currently under investigation for medical use. Not abandoned like you claim.
    http://scholar.google.fi/scholar?hl=en&q=graviola+tree+cancer

    There isn’t terribly many papers, I suspect it’s because of “file drawer effect”. But we will know later what science will say about it, is it viable or not.

    Secondly, if you think pharmaceutical companies are so evil, then please go and look who owns the companies that sell your herbs and vitamins! The very same companies that sell you medical drugs!

    The exceptions are blatantly dangerous remedies for serious conditions, because pharmaceutical companies cannot avoid legal problems as easily as the individual charlatans who continue to sell them (or more often, sell their books about it) in name of alternative medicine.

    • nelson says:

      That story took place in the 70’s and WAS abandoned by that particular drug company and since then has become know through those so called evil herb and vitamin dispensaries. NOW, since the news has gotten out that Graviola works to kill cancer cells some current scientist have been doing research on it but that fact does not invalidate the facts of it’s original discovery. Some of the natural substance sellers have been bought up by drug companies so that they can control what they perceive as the competition. IF, as some of you say that herbs do nothing and vitamins don’t cure anything, would a drug company buy them???? You contradict yourselves.

      I never said I had any DISEASES I said I had some problems or conditions that I used natural substances to cure. And by the way I did see doctors about all of them but didn’t get any relief until I took control of the problem and now they are gone. You can disparage vitamins and herbs all you like and you can also say the earth is flat till kingdom come but that don’t make it true.

  34. Jussi says:

    “That story took place in the 70′s and WAS abandoned by that particular drug company and since then has become know through those so called evil herb and vitamin dispensaries. NOW, since the news has gotten out that Graviola works to kill cancer cells some current scientist have been doing research on it but that fact does not invalidate the facts of it’s original discovery.”

    I’m not familiar with the story (can you give me link to it?). But even if one company would work with these evil principles, it wouldn’t change anything. There are still drugs that really work. And herbs generally are scientifically proven not to work, or they have became as drugs. Of course there will be new discoveries, etc. Cannot speak for future.

    “Some of the natural substance sellers have been bought up by drug companies so that they can control what they perceive as the competition.”

    Not true. They all sell same vitamins and herbs. If they would be superior in competing with drugs, they would focus on selling them.

    “IF, as some of you say that herbs do nothing and vitamins don’t cure anything, would a drug company buy them???? You contradict yourselves.”

    Because they sell!
    They are companies to make profit. Doctors are to make people healthy. That is the reason why drug companies sell vitamins and herbs, but doctors don’t prescribe them. There is no contradiction, only your failure to understand the business.

    “I never said I had any DISEASES I said I had some problems or conditions that I used natural substances to cure.”

    I asked you what diseases herbs have eradicated and that was your answer!
    So I’ll ask again, what DISEASES herbs have eradicated?

    “And by the way I did see doctors about all of them but didn’t get any relief until I took control of the problem and now they are gone.”

    Good for you, but your anecdotal evidence is not enough to make the assertion that drugs cannot cure diseases.

    “You can disparage vitamins and herbs all you like and you can also say the earth is flat till kingdom come but that don’t make it true.”

    No, I use evidence to decide what is true and what is not. Some herbs do work, and thus they are used to make drugs for doctors to prescribe them.

  35. George Kanakaris says:

    then why does it work for animals ?

Leave a Reply