I Would Not Blame Any Scientist For Saying Homeopathy Is Not ‘Scientific’, Until We Prove It Is Science
Science demands proving everything according to scientific methods. Homeopathy is so far not proved by scientific methods, and as such, scientific community has every right to say homeopathy is not a science, but a belief system.
It is our duty to prove that they are wrong. Homeopathic theoreticians till date try to explain the ‘modus operandi’ of potentized homeopathic medicines using one or other hypotheses available or evolved by them, which do not agree with existing scientific knowledge system, and as such, homeopathy still belongs to a class of scientifically ‘unexplained experience’’.
The sad thing we should never forget is that we have not yet evolved even a scientifically viable working hypothesis regarding homeopathy. By the term ‘hypothesis’ we mean a ‘proposed explanation’ or “educated guess” for a phenomenon that we observe around us. Every ‘proposed explanation’ cannot be considered a ‘scientific hypothesis’. To be a ‘scientific hypothesis’, the scientific method requires that one can test the hypothesis using available scientific tools and methodology. Every new scientific hypotheses are generally based on previous observations that could not be satisfactorily be explained with the existing scientific theories. The words “hypothesis” and “theory” are often used synonymously in common and informal usage, even though a ‘scientific hypothesis’ is not exactly the same as ‘a scientific theory’. A hypothesis should be proved ‘using scientific tools’ in order to become a scientific theory. A ‘working hypothesis’ is a provisionally accepted hypothesis that is ready to be proved. Experimenters will have to test and reject several hypotheses before solving the given problem ultimately.
Testability (using existing scientific tools), Simplicity (avoiding excessive numbers of entities), Scope (apparent application of the hypothesis to multiple cases of phenomena), Fruitfulness (hypothesis may help to explain further phenomena in the future), and Conservatism (fitting with existing recognized knowledge-systems) are considered to be the essential qualities of a good scientific hypothesis.
Viewing from this standpoint, it is very much clear that most of the presently existing most celebrated ‘theories’ or hypotheses regarding homeopathy cannot be considered ‘scientific hypotheses’ since they contain concepts and conclusions that ‘could not be tested by any scientist using currently available scientific tools and methodology’ or ‘fit with existing recognized knowledge-systems’.
When attempting to provide a scientific explanation to homeopathy, first we have to propose a ‘scientific hypotheses’. That means, a hypothesis that ‘could be tested by any scientist using currently available scientific tools and methodology’ and that ‘fits with existing recognized knowledge-systems’.
There are already many imaginative and ‘scientific’ ‘theories’ going around that seek to explain everything about homeopathy but fail to predict or offer anything of relevance. If a hypothesis fail to predict some relevant practical outcomes, then it becomes scientifically untestable and, therefore, unusable in practice.
Assumptions being proposed by a scientific hypothesis should be simple, testable and their numbers should be held to a minimum. The assumptions should also reflect the basic experience that is already generally held to be known.
Any working hypothesis about homeopathy should clearly identify a ‘biological mechanism’ that represents the action-reaction homeostasis of ‘vital processes’, which is called as the ‘vital force’ in homeopathy. It should also be capable of explaining the molecular mechanism of homeopathic therapeutics in a way fitting to the verified scientific paradigm of modern biochemistry and molecular biology.
Once a working hypothesis is proposed, there is much more research to be done before that is accepted as a ‘scientific theory’. The hypothesis needs to offer predictions that can be repeatedly and conclusively proved or disproved in the laboratory and in the clinic with out any bias.
In this modern era of scientific enlightenment and technological advance, we can no longer hope to proceed further ahead with Homeopathy, without the help of a well proven and universally acceptable scientific methodology. We can no longer hope to depend merely upon certain set of somewhat mysterious quotations and philosophical speculations inherited from our great masters. It is very important that Homeopathy has to be first of all dealt with as a subject of science, not as a religion or metaphysics. Essentially, the principles of Homeopathy have yet to achieve the right to be recognized as part of modern medical science. To begin with, it has to attain acceptability among the modern scientific community, at least in terms of a rational methodology and vocabulary.
Science is not a mere heap of lifeless and dry inflexible theories and dogmas. It is a live cognitive system, undergoing an endless process of self-renewal and growth. Science never celebrates the words of masters quoted out of context. It is the the sum total of the ideas enwrapped in the expressed words that really matter. It is the readiness on its part to prove its propositions on practical level, to imbibe new ideas, and to discard obsolete ones mercilessly, that makes science distinct from other intellectual activities. That is the touch-stone of scientific method. There is no water-tight compartments in the realm of science. Our approach to human knowledge should be dialectic, not dogmatic.
Human knowledge develops and unfolds itself through a never ending dialectic process of simultaneous assimilation and negation of history. It is impossible for anybody to proceed with his intellectual quest without drawing resources from the treasures of knowledge amassed by the by-gone generations. Obviously, no genius can totally overcome the objective limitations imposed upon him by the space-time context of his life and activities. Development of human knowledge should be perceived in relation with this objective framework of historical evolution. Man knows today much more than he knew yesterday. Certainly he would know infinitely more tomorrow, than what he knows today. The knowledge of yesterdays, however great they might have been, were much incomplete than that of today. Tomorrow, human knowledge would be definitely more expansive and more comprehensive than that of today. The basis of scientific perspective of knowledge lies in realizing this fundamental truth.
We should never forget the objective historical context of 18th centuryGermany, where Samuel Hahnemann lived and developed his novel therapeutic system. Two hundred and more eventful years have passed since it happened. It is not to be seen as a sin to say that his thoughts and propositions were definitely confined by the limitations imposed by the infantile level of science and technology then existed there. Even though the the essence of the therapeutic principle he developed is capable of transcending the boundaries of centuries to come, it would be unfair to try to evaluate his achievements and contributions detached from his objective time-space framework.
Human knowledge has attained an ever greater maturity of more than two centuries, compared with the conditions that existed when Hahnemann lived. It is an undisputable fact that man now knows much more about the diverse phenomena of this universe than in the era of Hahnemann. Hahnemann had developed his ideas depending upon the existing knowledge about the universe available to him. Naturally it is bound to bear the limitations imposed by the objective historical and geographical context.
Obviously, modern science and its methodology were in its infancy in those days. Had he happened to live in this world 200 years later, the towering genius of Hahnemann would have presented to humanity a therapeutic system totally different, and much more advanced and scientific than what we now call Homeopathy. He would have definitely rewritten completely what we preach and practice in the name of Homeopathy today.
All these facts underlines the crucial relevance of a complete re-reading and reclaiming of the theory and practice of Homeopathy in conformity with modern scientific and historical context. Whenever we try to learn the teachings of Hahnemann, we should be on the look out to understand what he would have said about those subjects, if he were elaborating them in the modern context. We should not take his written words as if they were ultimates, unquestionable and beyond any scope of further revisions and improvements. We should honour the great master by following his teachings as valuable guide to tread forward, and not as lifeless dogmas. This is the essence of dialectical methodology.
The theory and practice of Homeopathy has been always a matter of endless controversy, since its inception two hundred years ago. Representatives of the so-called ‘official science’ were always in a state of undeclared war against it. Rather than being hailed as a possible new medical breakthrough to give better health for all, homeopathy has been ridiculed, ignored and systematically suppressed through centuries. We repeatedly hear about ‘successful” attempts by its opponents, to ‘disprove’ it ‘scientifically’, and time and again declaring it a ‘fraud, placebo, or pseudoscience’. In spite of all these scorns, ridicules and ‘witch hunts’, homeopathy still exists and thrives all over the continents, alleviating pain and sufferings of millions. The rising acceptance of homeopathy not only by the millions of lay public, but by the heads of states, members of royal families and many other dignitaries all over the world, has produced a state of dilemma in the world of medicine. Either all of these millions had fallen victims to a successful global scale ‘medical hoax’, or the ‘learned scientists’ striving to disprove homeopathy, are being proved themselves wrong.
On the other side of the matter, certain unscientific and dogmatic concepts and notions still dominate the mindset of many who work in the field of Homeopathy today. Many of them proudly claim that they are strict followers of Hahnemann, and Hahnemann alone. We can meet ‘Classical Homeopaths’ who hesitate even to refer to any book other than those written by Dr. Hahnemann. They raise questions about the ‘scientificness’ of modern science, and engage in ‘scholarly’ discourses regarding the futility of science and scientific method! They declare themselves to be practitioners of what they call ‘True Homeopathy’. They are not real followers, but only worshippers of Samuel Hahnemann. For them, Hahnemann is omnipotent and omniscient like a God! They will not tolerate any attempt of additions or deletions to what the master has said regarding homeopathy two hundred years back. According to them, homeopathy is the only ‘ultimate’ ‘scientific’ therapeutic system, and all other medical systems are absolutely ‘unscientific’. We also meet certain clever guys who try to sell homeopathy maximum through their own private outlets, by assigning attractive trade labels such as ‘predictive’, ‘true’, ‘pure’, ‘classical’, ‘expert’, ‘elite’ and so on. The irony is that all these people of various colors and clowns are claiming themselves to be the only ‘true’ disciples of a great Genius, who displayed the intellectual courage to reform and re-write his own ‘Organon of Medicine’ six times in his life time, as part of his unrelenting quest for truth and perfection. As this undeniable historical truth remains, it is a pity to note that people who claim themselves to be the ardent followers of the great Master, are shutting their doors on the face of all new knowledge and scientific enlightenment with such hideous tenacity.
Samuel Hahnemann, the great founder of Homeopathy, was born on 10th April 1755 in Germany. He died on 2nd July 1843. ‘Similia Similibus Curentur’ or ‘Likes Cures Like’ is the expression of a universally applicable natural therapeutic law revealed to him as a result of his extraordinary observational skills and ardent study. Based on this fundamental law of natural curative process hitherto unknown to humanity, Hahnemann laid the foundation for a new therapeutic system called homeopathy. A detailed theoretical frame work and practical tools for this new system of therapeutics were also developed during his later years. It is the aim of this article to re-read and re-evaluate these principles in the light of modern biochemistry and other bio-physical sciences. Such a rational re-reading is expected to culminate in providing a scientific explanation for the fundamental principles of homeopathy at large.
The epoch-making revelation of Hahnemann regarding the fundamental law of cure was of so much relevance and implications that it really deserved to be recognized in the history of human knowledge along withNewton’s Theory of Motion, Theory of Gravitation, orDarwin’s Theory of Evolution. It was a grave unpardonable historical blunder on the part of contemporary scientific world that such a recognition did not happen. Had it been possible for them to imbibe Hahnemann’s findings in its real gravity, the fate and course of modern medicine would have been entirely different.
Physical Sciences of 18th Century Germany was in its early infancy, and obviously, could not recognize the importance of the new therapeutic law discovered by Samuel Hahnemann. The toolbox of contemporary science and technology was not sufficiently equipped to address this task. Mindset of of the leading personalities working in diverse disciplines of physical sciences were governed by the world outlook of mechanistic materialism. Naturally, they could not take up the task of assimilating Hahnemann’s findings and propositions, which presented much more complicated theoretical and practical issues that were beyond the boundaries of their mechanistic methodologies. This situation resulted in some sort of willful neglect and apathy from the part of mainstream scientific community towards Hahnemann and his discoveries. They miserably failed to comprehend the revolutionary content and epoch-making relevance of Hahnemann’s findings. Hahnemann, whose apathy towards the contemporary medical system and its professional community is well known, may also have chosen to keep himself aloof from mainstream science. His unrelenting ideological rebellion against the influence of mechanical materialism existing in the dominant medical stream may have led him inevitably into some sort of metaphysical and idealistic philosophical gleanings, which dominated the contemporary non-scientific intellectual arenas. Inevitably, homeopathy was constrained to follow an independent parallel intellectual course, far removed from the mainstream science. Hence it is not really unexpected that homeopathy is reveling in an atmosphere much akin to speculatory theorizations, rather than an objective scientific activity. Even today, homeopathy is not able to free itself from the clutches of the above mentioned parallel path. Still it has not come to terms with modern mainstream Science.
As a simple and effective therapeutic system, free of any fear of unwanted side effects, homeopathy has already gained acceptability to a great extent during the by gone two centuries. The principle of ‘Similia Similibus Curenter’ has sufficiently proved its ‘right of existence’ through thousands and thousands of miraculous cures by homeopaths all over the world. But we cannot overlook the fact that we have not yet succeeded in explaining this principle scientifically enough. Modern physical sciences and molecular biology have accumulated a huge wealth of knowledge in recent years, unraveling even the minutest secrets of the phenomenon of life . But we have not yet been able to recreate the fundamental principles of homeopathy scientifically and convincingly enough, by taking advantage of the above mentioned modern scientific achievements. Homeopathy shall be duly recognized and respected as an advanced branch of modern molecular medicine, only when such a scientific recreation of its basic premises is attained. Until then, acceptance of our claim that homeopathy is a science will remain confined to ourselves alone.
A radical re-building of the whole system of homeopathy on a rational and scientific foundation is essential, emancipating this powerful therapeutic art from the clutches of unscientific, metaphysical and vitalistic ideologies. Modern physical sciences and technologies have evolved into such a state of maturity that we can now at least attempt with their help to provide a scientific and satisfactory explanation to the centuries-old mysteries and riddles associated with this wonderful therapeutic system. Such a fundamental re-building shall obviously help in enthroning homeopathy on its rightful status of the most advanced branch of modern medical science, unfairly denied for more than last two hundred years.
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