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“Holistic” versus homeopathy versus The Secret

“Holistic.”

How often do we hear that word bandied about by practitioners of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, as it’s increasingly called, “integrative medicine” (IM)? Lots. The reason is that CAM/IM practitioners seem to think they own the word. They’ve so utterly co-opted it that it has become meaningless, in the process perverting it. No longer does it mean “taking care of the whole person.” Not really, at least not anymore. Thanks to quacks having taken possession of it as their own, “holistic” now has a connotation of woo, in which it is said to be impossible to be a truly “holistic” physician if you don’t embrace pseudoscience wholesale. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture, the magical thinking that is reiki and other forms of “energy healing,” homeopathy, reflexology, and any other form of non-science-based medicine, some or all of these a doctor must practice in order to be “holistic.” Or so the quacks would like you to believe. It’s a false dichotomy of course: Either doctors must embrace quackery, or they are not “holistic” or “humanistic” and they don’t care for their patients enough.

They’ve succeeded, too. They’ve framed the issue just the way that favores them. Even though a good primary care doctor, be he internist, pediatrician, or family practitioner, is a holistic doctor, no woo required.

That doesn’t stop CAM practitioners from continuing to push this image of the cold, uncaring doctor lacking people skills, contrasting it to the allegedly infinitely more touchy-feely CAM/IM practitioner, who cares about every aspect of his patients’ lives and is thus able to combine the “best of both worlds” to help them. Unfortunately, as Mark Crislip once put it, “If you integrate fantasy with reality, you do not instantiate reality. If you mix cow pie with apple pie, it does not make the cow pie taste better; it makes the apple pie worse.” That’s why it never ceases to amaze me when I see apologists for CAM/IM try to push just this dichotomy. Normally a post promoting such nonsense wouldn’t necessarily catch my attention, but last night I happened across a post that compared “holistic medicine” to homeopathy, and I was intrigued. This post was, not surprisingly, on a blog called Mother Nature Network and entitled, appropriately enough, What’s the difference between holistic and homeopathic medicine?

The difference between cow pie from two different breeds of cow, as far as I’m concerned. But let’s here Judd Handler tell it:

A holistic medical doctor combines modern, Western scientific treatment with alternative medicine or complementary treatments, such as chiropractic, acupuncture or massage. Both a homeopathic physician and a holistic medical doctor will look at the whole picture. How they differ is that the homeopathic doctor would prepare a remedy in liquid or tablet form, while the holistic doctor would provide a patient with the option of a pharmaceutical drug in addition to alternative treatments, which could include a homeopathic remedy.

Homeopathic treatment — often bashed by modern scientific institutions and doctors — in general falls under the holistic umbrella. Homeopathic medicine examines the whole person. It integrates a person’s constitution, diet, emotional and mental state and stressors, among other factors — hence the term holistic.

But are either of these holistic? How can a treatment be “holistic” when it has no basis in science, which is definitely the case for homeopathy. Such a “holistic” practitioner might be great at ferreting out every last little detail about a patient’s life, but there’s a huge hole in his “holism,” and that’s actually understanding the patient’s disease and how to treat it. In claiming the mantle of “holism,” CAM/IM practitioners forget that they lack a critical part of that concept: Knowing what what you’re doing and having treatments that work. If you want to see what I mean.

None of this stops Mr. Handler from trying to make a distinction between homeopathy and “holistic medicine” in which homeopathy is holistic most of the time, but not always, and homeopathy can even be—gasp!—not holistic at times:

If you have a cold, it’s easy to buy a homeopathic supplement from a health food store or supplement shop, and that might help you, but taking these pellets or solutions without examining why you got sick in the first place lacks a holistic perspective. The same could be said about over-the-counter drugs.

Most homeopathic practitioners are practicing holistic medicine; consumers who buy their own homeopathic remedies aren’t necessarily doing so.

In other words, you need the “holistic” practitioner to tell you what’s wrong with you and how to treat it, the difference between a holistic doctor and a homeopath, apparently, boiling down to whether or not they use diagnostic testing:

Holistic medical doctors often encourage diagnostic testing (adrenal function and hormone levels, for example) in an attempt to find the underlying cause that led to the imbalance; homeopathic physicians treat the whole person, but generally do not suggest the use of modern diagnostic tests.

Of course, as I discussed when I posted about how often “adrenal fatigue” is a wastebasket diagnosis that has no meaning in science or support in clinical observations or science, the “modern diagnostic testing” described above is nonsense. It inevitably finds something wrong with a patient. Whether that “something wrong” has anything to do with reality or not is another matter. Be that as it may, from the description above, one could actually argue that the homeopath has less potential for mischief than the holistic doctor. Actually, one could easily argue that anyway, given that homeopathy involves diluting whatever fantastical remedy homeopaths come up with to nonexistence, leaving nothing but water.

all of this brings us back to the key problem with “integrative medicine,” which is, of course, what Mark Crislip said it is. It’s not a good thing to mix fantasy with reality, at least not with respect to medicine. It leads to some scary things. For instance, I can’t help but be reminded of Reiki Doc, whom I first encountered over the weekend and blogged about yesterday. I didn’t realize what a Pandora’s Box I had opened when I became aware of Reiki Doc’s post about using reiki in the operating room on patients without their consent. You, my readers, apparently went on to read far more than I did of Reiki Doc’s blog, finding numerous tidbits I missed, to the point where I quickly realized that, if I wanted to, I could easily spend a week or two doing nothing but deconstructing Reiki Doc posts.

Instead of doing that, however, I’ll do just one more, because it illustrates another aspect of CAM/IM that is disturbing in the extreme. It’s an issue I’ve discussed before, and it’s what I call “The Secret” aspect to alternative medicine, or, as I’ve put it before, “wishing makes it so.” The idea is that the patient “attracts” good to himself or herself by wanting it bad enough. The problem, of course, is the flip side of this idea, namely that it implies that patients attract bad things to themselves, too, which makes it their fault if they are sick or stay sick. Reiki Doc clearly subscribes to this idea herself:

I have spent more time than I care to admit in The heart room. It just gets spooky: there are some patients, who out of fear or whatever, do NOT want to be there. Like the patients with the epidurals that won’t go in, these ones have the ability to block interventions ALL OVER their body. The I.v. Won’t go in. The arterial line is a challenge. You try and try and try to get a central line. When it is time to put the breathing tube it’s hard to see the glottis, the opening between the vocal cords where the tube goes in. The saw breaks, the sutures snap, and the vein graft is poor quality. The surgeon struggles. The negativity is pervasive.

In other words, when things go poorly in the operating room, it’s the patient’s fault because of his “negative energy,” that not only attracts bad things but actively resists healing! It’s not just in the cardiac suite, either:

Your fear and non-acceptance of conventional birthing techniques, for whatever reason, puts it on your mind. A lot. What you don’t know, and what the nurses can see but can’t explain, is a simple Law of the Universe: we create what we think of and expect to happen, and the Universe deletes the word ‘not’. You constant worrying about the method of birth sends a stream of requests to The Universe: I want c-section, I want c-section, I want c-section. And nine times out of ten that is exactly what you get.

So, yes, ladies, if you end up with a c-section, it’s not because of biology or other problems; rather it’s your own fault because, according to the Law of Attraction, you’ve “manifested” the c-section on yourself. It’s depressing reading, because this goes far beyond the idea that wanting something will make it more likely that that you will achieve it because you will work harder for it into the realm of thinking that your mind has power over the universe. Perhaps the worst aspect of this sort of thinking is the “blame-the-patient” mentality behind it. There’s enough of a tendency in medicine to do that as it is; we don’t need a mystical rationale to justify it, nor is it “holistic” to do so.

What physicians really need to do is to reclaim the mantle of “holistic” medicine from teh quacks who have contaminated it with the assumption that you need quackery to be a holistic doctor and that it is possible to bend the universe to one’s will by desire alone. It won’t be easy. Over the last 20 years, the linking of holistic medicine to pseudoscience has become so tight that it will be hard to overcome.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

120 replies on ““Holistic” versus homeopathy versus The Secret”

On the C-section thing — my wife was a nurse-midwife for many years. Her anecdotal impression — I know, I know, it’s not data! — was that the patients who had 10-page birthing plans full of long lists of interventions they didn’t want, tended to end up requiring every intervention known to modern medical science (all of which were right down the hall, this being a hospital-based practice).

She didn’t attribute this to a “simple Law of the Universe”, though. She attributed it to the patient being so anxious and suspicious that she couldn’t just let her body do what it needed to do. The patients who simply “crossed that bridge when they came to it”, so to speak, seemed to do a lot better.

“Homeopathic medicine examines the whole person.”

…whereas Orac just sees a detached human breast, shuffling into his office by means of pseudopods.

Doesn’t sound very holistic to me. 🙁

Dr. Dangerous Bacon — Orac may see only detached breasts, but if I remember your field correctly, you probably just see slides of tissue with stains and stuff on ’em — a total reductionist. But I’m sure, being an Ace Pathologist, you can sense the woo-energy in those slides, and diagnose accordingly.

[I kid, I kid.]

That ‘Law of Attraction’ bollocks reminded me of Wayne Dyer, who churns out books with titles such as ‘The Power of Intention’ and ‘Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifestation’. The power of his intention has so far successfully manifested a heart attack, a divorce and now, I hear, chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Does that stop people buying his books? Of course not. Nor does it stop him from writing stuff like this about his privations:

A wound may look awful with its scab, pus and swelling, but it would be wrong to excise it, Dyer says: “That’s the body’s way of healing, and you let it run its course.”

Pus and swelling? That’s not the body’s way of healing, that a sign that if you don’t deal with the problem pdq you’re risking septicemia, gangrene and death.

There is nothing that can falsify this sort of belief, whatever happens can be interpreted as supporting it.

Your long-time analysis of homeopathy has gone down the drain. So, you can throw away your rotary phone and typewriter..and now, you can throw out your history of garbage analysis of homeopathy.

Read this article and learn something MODERN about homeopathy: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1472-6882-12-191.pdf

If you or any of your ilk ever again say “there is nothing in homeopathic medicines,” we will now know that you are a lying dirty dog or simply mis-informing others.

Homeopathic medicine examines the whole person. It integrates a person’s constitution, diet, emotional and mental state and stressors, among other factors — hence the term holistic.

And then, after examining the whole patient, the homepath prescribes exactly the treatment for all patients examined regardless of diagnosis: sugar pills and/or water.

It occured to me recently, how does homeopathic water traverse the digestive system intact? If you believe that you have imbued some sort of magic to the water by succussion, how does the water not change with the peristalsis of the intestine to then adopt the characteristics of the contents of the intestines? So much bollocks, so little time.

@Dana: Not even wrong. For starters, the journal contains “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” in its name: a dubious source. Then it claims that not just atoms, but nanoparticles (and of silica, not just the alleged active ingredient), persist through dilution with distilled water. And that’s just the abstract. I don’t need to read any further.

not just nanoparticle crap – post-modern gibberish.

Heh. Apparently, the Organon is “a well-articulated practice theory.” Go find the homeopathic cure for baldness, Dana.

And it’s not even a reference for the nanoparticle crap. It takes that as a given, then attempts to explain how homeopathy works based on that.

Oh, and another news flash. Ullman, even IF we were to assume that everything in that article is completely true, you are still a fraud for putting the cart before the horse. Taking people’s money, then trying to figure out after the fact whether or not your claims were lies (hint: they are), is fraud regardless of the outcome of those later investigations.

Wow Dana – I don’t even think that was English….at least not in any sort of grammatical sense. It reads like someone went through & tried to stick as many “sciency-sounding” words as possible to try to describe the physically-impossible.

@Dana

Ooooh. Thank you. Depending on my mood that paper could well be blogging material for sometime in the next week. Maybe I’ll even “honor” it by writing about it for my other blog. 🙂

And it’s not even a reference for the nanoparticle crap. It takes that as a given, then attempts to explain how homeopathy works based on that.

Nah, they cite Chikramane et al. Dana apparently thinks that burying this under a fresh pile of well-composted prose makes it all sparkly again.

Wait – so it’s the glass that shakes loose from the sides of the vial, “programmed” by the original chemical, that makes homeopathy work? And as you dilute, you add more glass to the solution which, somehow, takes on the programming of the original glass (not vice versa)?

And it’s been a long time since I took chemistry, but what’s a bulk-form molecule? Are nano-particles actually smaller than a molecule and, if so, are they really the same stuff?

“Article type Debate” Hmm. That’s compelling.
What on earth is the, “allostatic stress response network” and what are, “organism-dependent adaptive and endogenously amplified effects” for that matter?
Aren’t these just another way of saying that a squirrel squeaks and runs away if you poke it with a stick?

Oh, and…

This work was supported in part by NIH/NCCAM grant T32 AT01287.

The “Arizona Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Training Program.” There’s $128,435 well spent.

Bell seems to be able to turn out approximations of the Postmodern Generator with remarkable ease. This, from an earlier presentation:

The simillimum remedy is a microcosmic encapsulation of the cumulative experienced environment (i.e., fitness landscape) for the person as a complex adaptive system

Perhaps the worst aspect of this sort of thinking is the “blame-the-patient” mentality behind it.

I once challenged an alternative healer with this (I thought her healing method being ‘mean’ mighty seem more important to her than whether or not it was ”wrong’) and her defense was very quick. The patient’s negative thoughts are seldom the fault of the patient themselves — no, they come from all the mean, negative people in their lives.

The childhood bullies, the judgmental parents, the unappreciative spouses, the co-worker or ‘friends’ who are making YOU have negativity. We can talk about them, and how they’ve victimized you so that your worry and anxiety manifested in whatever problem it is you have. Talk about them — and then work on forgiveness. Because all illness and disease comes from holding on to resentment (this was the grand insight behind her treatments.)

So it looks like they can both blame the victim and reassure the victim that they’re only victims and blame others, too. Very smooth.

The IV line won’t go in on a nervous patient? Well, duh. I’m not a nurse or a doctor and I can tell you that, because when I’m nervous, it’s much harder for the nurse to find a good vein. Reiki has nothing to do with this; a natural part of the fear response is that the blood vessels constrict, which is naturally going to make it more difficult to run an IV. And as for the whole thing about “you really wanted a c-section”, that’s downright insulting and loses me right there. I didn’t want a c-section. I was determined to avoid one. But I cared more about having a live baby, and when her heart stopped beating, even as measured by the internal monitor, it was time for her to come out as fast as possible. Childbirth isn’t just about the wants of the mother, anymore than parenthood is, and anyone who thinks it is should probably just invest in a doll collection because they’ll do a lot less harm that way.

It seems that Reiki Doc, like a certain web woo-meister, doesn’t think very much of her patients:
problems that occur are OBVIOUSLY their own fault.

The woo-meister speaks about how certain people bring along their own dark cloud of “negative energy” that encapsulates them and spreads its malign influence into any environment they traverse, influencing whosoever inhabits that space as well. Sounds like something I once read by Stephen King.

Null comments that when he studied healers, one person, a woman ( it’s always a woman) didn’t heal the rats ( or plants) but made them WORSE. Indeed her negativity brought oppressive doom and gloom that all could experience, especially him: he is a ‘sensitive’, you see.

Reiki Doc informs us that negative people cause their own problems that interfere with her healing efforts. However, if we take a step back, we might investigate a hidden assumption that these magical healers must hold.

If you believe that your energy can help others or attune them, you must have pretty d-mn good, specialised and concentrated sweetness and light. After all, aren’t you ‘setting things right’: there is illness or injury and your own power FIXES it. Even if they go through the old rigormarole that they are ‘merely a vessel’ or channel for the almighty healing power of the deity: well, you’d have to be rather spectacular to be so chosen, wouldn’t you?

Again, they attribute good outcomes and qualities to themselves and negative outcome or qualities to the other.
I’m sure that this will really give them a realistic and compassionate view of other people.

Just as realistic and compassionate as they are about SBM advocates and any of their critics while they pad their own massively impoverished egos.

But Sastra:
WHY did those bullies persecute THAT particular child, why did the parents, spouse, co-workers pick on THAT particular person?
The law of attraction says they somehow ATTRACTED it!

These people are, as the poet says, “out of their gourds”.

Denice Walter wrote:

If you believe that your energy can help others or attune them, you must have pretty d-mn good, specialised and concentrated sweetness and light.

Don’t forget the basis of the specialness, though — it’s a lack of ego. They’ve learned to let go of their attachments to the world and the need to prove things. Therefore they’re practically off the charts on the humility scale.

Unlike their critics, who come from a place of ego and self. The woo-meisters take a compassionate view of such arrogant people. The negativity hurts the negative more than it hurts others.

Come on, don’t you recognize true humility when you see it?

WHY did those bullies persecute THAT particular child, why did the parents, spouse, co-workers pick on THAT particular person?
The law of attraction says they somehow ATTRACTED it!

They attracted it by their lack of confidence. Which was caused by the bullies who were attracted.

The wonderful thing about systems which circle round and round is that it’s like playing Calvinball. Stop anywhere you want and claim victory using rules apparently made up on the spot. The important thing is to find a place where someone is nodding over the truth of your deep insight. The more doing this the better — but if it’s only you then it’s only you, shaking your head sadly over the folly of the unenlightened.

And of course, another fun part is that they get to define “negative” however they like. They generally go for shallow evaluations.

I’m a curmudgeon of a skeptic. I say things a lot of people don’t like to hear, because I think it’s in their best interests as well as the interests of society at large. I’m adversarial because adversarial approaches can be more productive than blind groupthink. I point out problems because acknowledging their existence is the first step to solving them. I complain because I care.

But to a woo, I’m just a demonic negative sourpuss who hates everything.

Bronze Dog — I, on the other hand, find you soothing to my jangled nerves and a joy forever.

Well, okay. A pleasure to read, though. I’ll give you a ‘Denice.’

Calli — Damn straight about the C-sections. There are times when they are absolutely, medically necessary, and it’s not because the patient couldn’t relax enough or whatever. I do hope your baby turned out well!

She turned out wonderfully. Came out pink and screaming; no reason was ever found for why her heart stopped several times, so we all joke that she thought she was on a bus and was yanking on the cord to ask for the bus to stop. 😀 She’s been healthy ever since. (She’s asleep on my couch right now; the poor dear is the last person in our family to catch this ugly stomach bug that’s been making its rounds. I was hoping she’d escape it, but it’s evidently pretty contagious.)

Glad to hear she was healthy.

I wonder if she has a Norwalk virus. Those produce truly dreadful symptoms for a day or two (shudder), but I suppose they’re pretty low priority for vaccine development since as far as I know they don’t tend to do permanent damage.

At the risk of derailing the thread with a somewhat OT request — my trainer, whom I like an awful lot but think can’t do research worth a shit, just sent me an e-mail about sleep and insulin resistance and all the links in it were to NaturalNews. How the hell do I tell her that NN isn’t worth the electrons it’s printed on without offending her?

If you or any of your ilk ever again say “there is nothing in homeopathic medicines,” we will now know that you are a lying dirty dog or simply mis-informing others.

What’s this? Ullmann has evidence that homeopathic medicines have an effect? HURRAH!
…The paper “proposes a novel model for homeopathic remedy action on living systems”. No evidence. Nothing. An exercise in handwaving and made-up words, pretending that a plausible explanation exists for a phenomenon that no-one has observed.
Imagine my disappointment.

so it’s the glass that shakes loose from the sides of the vial, “programmed” by the original chemical, that makes homeopathy work? And as you dilute, you add more glass to the solution which, somehow, takes on the programming of the original glass (not vice versa)?

Homeopathic polywater!
This always ends with George Takei taking his shirt off.

I’m still trying to figure this one out. One of the first things a medicine does is to dissolve (unless specially coated, I suppose). Once in solution, you have individual molecules and, perhaps, really tiny crystals. How is that different from nanoparticles?

@herr doktor bimler – I didn’t read the whole paper, but from my quick skim the summary was:
– homeopathic medicines at high potencies (vanishingly low concentrations) work.
– the criticism that anything above C12 is unlikely to have a single molecule of original active agent is, unfortunately, true – therefore, it must be irrelevant.
– water memory is just silly, so there must be another mechanism.
– everyone agrees that no matter how we dilute, we still see silica in the solution (coming off the side of the vial).
– the silica must be the active agent.
QED

Once in solution, you have individual molecules and, perhaps, really tiny crystals. How is that different from nanoparticles?

If you look at their first reference, it might start to make sense. It seems that succussion preserves fluorescence in the face of dilution, and further down the list (#245), nanoparticles have been proposed as delivery mechanisms, and so… homeopathy! But they have to take on board Chikramane to get the nanoparticles in the first place.

Denice, it must be the latter. He referred to “a” Denice; when referring to you, we all know it can only be the Denice.

@ Interrobang:

Unfortunately I know a great deal about Natural News and Mikey. How would I break the bad news to a person who believes that NN isn’t anything other than a great, big, fat zero?

Adams professes to be an expert in nutrition: however his criticisms go far beyond his area of so-called research to fields like immunology, oncology, psychiatry and genetics.
Indeed, his posturing includes bragging about his studies in physics and cognitive psychology. I can assure you that he has never studied cognitive psychology on this planet.

He gives his fans a smattering of terms and names in each field to display his so-called knowledge but one could be less superficial than he is by quoting wiki-pedia. He no where discloses where he studied and what degrees he acquired ( I suspect none). University of Google most likely. He mentions that he developed software so I imagine his education involves some work in that area. LIke other poseurs, he is highly critical of the consensus and recognised experts in several fields.

Over the past several years, he has expanded his venue to include economics and politics: I’m not an economist but have formal training in that area. he parrots some of the most naive and fear-mongering ideas that have ever surfaced from the deep and slimy pool of misbegotten social science. He forecasts doom and gloom and then tells you to invest in precious metals because the Great Collapse is “right around the corner” Funny, but I’ve been hearing the same from Gary Null and Gerald Celente since 2001 or so.

Adams forecasts doom and also sells goods to “see you through the crisis”: storable foods, supplements, heirloom seeds, How-to Guides. In addition, he fancies himself to be a rapper ( see his music site) and has political leanings ( health freedom; libertarianism).. oh, I nearly forgot, his new site is about spirituality and the afterlife (see yesterday’s post)..like the other idiot I survey, he styles himself as an expert : more likely an expert in crankery and wankery.

Oops, and forgot the more contentful thing I had to say:

It seems that Handler is using what I call “the Awaketin gambit”. Many moons ago, when I was entering my first semester of college, we all got a variety of promotional-size items, hoping that we’d make them a regular part of our college careers.

One of these items was in fact a packet of no-sleep pills, which proudly announced on the side that it was better than all those other pills you might take to assist an all-nighter: it was the only such pill with the wonder ingredient Awaketin*!! How could any alternate medication possibly compare?? They lacked Awaketin*!!

Of course, if you looked on the packet for the note that asterisk referred to, it said something like “Awaketin is the manufacturer’s trademark name for caffeine.”

Crafty, hunh? No other manufacturer can offer Awaketin; every manufacturer offers that ingredient, but only this one can call it Awaketin. Clearly deceptive, but apparently a fully legal technique.

It seems to me that Handler et al. are trying to use “holistic” the same way. “We’re the only ones who offer Holistic* care!!” “And what’s the difference between holistic care and what every good doctor does?” “Holistic means it’s a hand-waver doing it.”

I was skimming through the paper linked by D Ullman, thinking of the famous Dutch turkey Gobble DeGook, when I came upon the sentence “Previous studies have shown that some
homeopathically-prepared materials can emit detectable electromagnetic signals.” “Oh, oh, oh!” sez I,” I’ll bet I know whence came that.” I won my bet. Our old friend Montagnier, cited right there at 33.

nanoparticles have been proposed as delivery mechanisms, and so… homeopathy!

Ah, so the magical water molecules and non-existent vestiges of the original preparation have a delivery vehicle. That makes all the difference!

Some music for Ullmann:

Ah, so the magical water molecules and non-existent vestiges of the original preparation have a delivery vehicle.

Reference 245, in particular, which is stylishly hidden in a table. Reference 178 is invoked merely as another reason to say “quantum.”

Cool…I found the Mother Lode of pseudo-skeptics (people who think that they are skeptics but are simply bullies who have an unscientific attitude on subjects that they don’t understand). The mixture of ARROGANCE and IGNORANCE at this site is remarkable…and predictable. Thanx for verifying for what I sensed to be true.

@ Narad:

Don’t laugh, but there’s already a figurine- 1/12 th scale-. It’s a faery who lost her wings or so I’ve been told.

Cool…I found the Mother Lode of pseudo-skeptics (people who think that they are skeptics but are simply bullies who have an unscientific attitude on subjects that they don’t understand). The mixture of ARROGANCE and IGNORANCE at this site is remarkable…and predictable. Thanx for verifying for what I sensed to be true.

Perhaps you’d like to explore this issue, Dana.

TELL US ABOUT BUSHMASTER LACHESIS, DANA.

The only difference between you and Benneth is an income stream, top-hat.

@dana ullman

Thank you for admitting your arrogance and utter ignorance of basic grad school science, as well as verifying that you have no idea of what you are talking about.

Tell me, have you yet to tire of your fraud and bilking money out of innocents? Because that’s all what you are doing, hit-and run troll.

@Denice:

“The Denice” is an award with licensed figurine, but of course it would be even more coveted if you volunteered to come along with it yourself for a week or so, popping out at convenient moments during arguments with alties to deliver something pithy.

but are simply bullies who have an unscientific attitude on subjects that they don’t understand

Really? The ‘you’re all bullies!’ defense? That’s the lowest of the low.

@ Sastra:

I’m very flattered. And flattery will get you everywhere. I was worried about being burned in effigy by alt meddlers- this is SO much better.
Do I get a travelling expense account?

@ Sastra: Think twice before you provide Denice Walter with an expense account.

Miss Flinders, who is Lord Draconis’ bookkeeper and who sends us our filthy lucre remuneration, told me that DW only travels super-deluxe first class…everywhere.

I must say that this Dana joint is a real tour de force:

The cuttlefish’s body is slightly flat with a supple fin. Similarly, the Sepia woman has a tendency to have masculine features, including flat-chestedness, and with their supple legs, they love to exercise, especially dancing and aerobics.

Dana,

What are the homeopathic properties of ground glass dust? (If I’ve understood it right, what would eating ground glass particles straight do to the body, because assuredly homeopathic remedy of same will cure it). Do you think glass dust has memory like water?

And could you detail the method by which homeopathic remedy makers purify their water down to 30C scale, so as not to have impurities succussed in, because according to principles of homeopathy these would cause all manner of horrible side effects.

How do those remedy makers dispose of the extra concoctions? Making a single dose of 30C remedy leaves 99 doses of the remedy with 29C potency, and 9,999 doses of remedy with 28C potency, 999,999 doses of 27C remedy, 99,999,999 doses of 26C remedy and so on. How do they neutralize these before reusing them letting them evaporate or pouring down the drain? Because if they would be as potent as claimed, that would be dangerous.

They must recycle the water, because one third of a drop of water diluted to 13C would require all the water we have on Planet Earth.

I believe non-homeopathic ground glass is a traditional remedy for a surplus of blood and a distressingly functional and undamaged digestive tract 🙂

That was my understanding also, Martin. Although it mainly comes from watching shows like Oz and listening to what mom said about drinking soda from a chipped bottle, rather than rigorous homeopathic provings or clinical testing.

I believe non-homeopathic ground glass is a traditional remedy for a surplus of blood

I dunno, if ground silica were such a bad thing, eating sandwiches at the beach would have done me in a long time ago.
Jim Rose of the Jim Rose Circus writes in his memoirs that eating lightbulbs wreaks havoc on the enamel of the teeth but is otherwise OK if you chew carefully (though he does complain that after eating two in one day he “shat a chandelier”).

Just goes to show why one should always be dubious about traditional remedies 🙂 (Point taken.)

More seriously: I’m disappointed with myself for not immediately thinking of silicosis and mesothelioma.

Have we stumbled upon the real reason that the tiny packets of silica gel found in prepackaged pharmaceuticals are labeled “Do Not Eat”?
Without further comment: silica gel kitty litter

It is somehow fitting that a discussion of silica found its way into a thread on integrative medicine. Both tend to adsorb all manner of crap drifting around in their vicinities.

I picture The Denice made of finest silica, on slightly larger than nano scale, by genetically engineered diatoms. Diatoms do such beautiful work.

@ Martin:

You are correct. We have an old family saying, ” I’d rather eat ground glass”.

-btw- one of Dana’s references includes essays about homeopathy considered in the ” light of Jungian Psychology”.
That’s sure to be data

Gosh, Dana, would you please point to the posts you believe bullied you?

If you can’t, I presume you’re just a loud-mouth.

Homeopathy has been deemed unrealistic because of physical constraints ( no molecules present at higher dilutions) HOWEVER I wonder who on g-d’s green earth made up the psychological profiles displayed on the linked site above?

It seems to me that folkloric insight into personality is reified and then used as the basis of an exercise in free association. Some of the descriptions defy logic; I notice skewed representations of women and gay men, I’ll leave it to the reader to discover the minutiae of my observation.

How in the world can you believe that how a person behaves is related to characteristics of plant’s growth patterns? Obviously someone who knows very little about both sets of information thinks that they understand their underlying mechanisms and their relationship.
The mind boggles.

What? Plants? Secret lives, perhaps? DW’s comment above combined with others’ previous motivated me to open said link. Nothing made any sense there, confirming Denice’s last two sentences above. Homeopathic explanations and treatments seem to involve whimsy & pulling stuff from the nether regions. And I don’t under-stand the idi-otic use of hyphens.

Haven’t done any scientific studies on this, but from my years working in an OB’s office, it seems to me that if there is a correlation between the patients with the ten page birth plans and the ones that end up with sections, it is due to the fact that they refuse intermediate level interventions that might make the c-section unnecessary — for instance, they will refuse pitocin to augment labor or they will refuse the pain medications or epidurals that might give them a chance to rest and keep their energy for the pushing stage. Their labors might then be longer or more exhausting, raising the chances that the babies will enter a distress situation from prolonged labor or that, when it finally comes time to push, they will be too exhausted from the X hours of painful contractions to make it happen on their own.

The natural childbirth movement is my own personal woo hot button.

Did someone bully Dana to make him run away?

Dana, I just love your fixations on sexual characteristics, but I wonder what those characteristics have to do with prescribed homeopathy *medicine*.

How should a patient dispose of unused magic water, Dana?

Shouldn’t we care about the environment and pollution of rivers and streams?

http://www.safemedicinedisposal.org/

How about directions from you to dispose of homeopathy medicines to avoid river and stream pollution.

And Dana, “If you or any of your ilk ever again say “there is ANYTHING in homeopathic medicines,” we will now know that you are a lying dirty dog or simply mis-informing others.”

Dana, your real problem is that we do understand the subjects under discussion here, and therefore refuse to accept claims regarding the safety and efficacy of various brands of woo without actual evidence those claims are accurate.

take homeopathy–we understand Avogadro’s number, we understand the principles of serial dilution, and we know that in a 30C homeopathic preparation no molecules of the original solute remain and the preparation is chemically and biologically indistinguishable from prue solvent. We understand further than no one has ever shown a homeopathic preparation to be any more effective than a placebo control, and that for homeopathy to work not only would everything we know about chemistry, biology and illness have to be wrong, it would have to be spectacularly wrong.

How exactly is it bullying to express this understanding?

@Denice – you need a good story to bring in the marks and keep them coming back, otherwise they might start to wonder what they’re paying for. If you tell a “patient” she’s a Sepia and she doesn’t fall over laughing and/or immediately leave the office, you just lay the “ancient wisdom” on thicker and you’re golden.

@Allie P

The natural childbirth movement is my own personal woo hot button.

Mine too – I wouldn’t have a child at all if it weren’t for a number of medical interventions. The most obnoxious thing about the childbirth woo-mongers is how completely oblivious they are to the fact that their absurd romanticization of pregnancy and labour was made possible by modern medicine. “Natural” childbirth killed untold numbers of women up until the 20th century. Of course, now that medical advances have made it far safer, in come the woo-peddlers with their backwards-ass claims that medicine has tried to “steal” the birthing experience from women. It’s all such hooey – and dangerous hooey at that.

Dana, Dana, Dana . . .

The bushmaster is warm-blooded and avoids sunlight and heat, going underground or to higher elevations where it is cooler. Likewise, Lachesis people are warm-blooded, especially during illnesses, and are aggravated in the heat.

I’m no herptetologist, but I do know some snakes and lizards, (one in particular, but that’s another story), and while their tolerance to heat varies from species to species, none of them, none of them are endothermic. This quote is emblematic of the kind of bullshit that homeopathy is built on. Magical dumbfuckery that’s all interconnected in the way that a child might think that a monarch butterfly might subsist entirely on a diet of butter and live in a palace.

I’m a creative art director. I spin stories for a living. I make pretty pictures and “brand” things. As a child, I was a total science geek on one hand and steeped in magical thinking on the other. Pushed by my own unexamined, existetial fear, I spent about 20 years of my young adult life floating in the comforting, herb-scented, fear-warding broth of new age nonsense. I loved science, but perverted it to avoid reality and serve the fears that guided me. I was the “worried well,” but I watched, complicit, as a close friend and new age mentor committed alt-med, magical thinking suicide, as he rejected “toxic” drugs that would have saved his life. It took ten years of working in the new age community, watching charlatans work their blatant con jobs, and three deaths to bring me back to reality.

I did reiki, I did homeopathy, I did acupuncture, I did Jungian therapy, I did TM, I did The Forum, I did, I did, I did. And while I thought I was seeking, it turns out all I was doing was hiding. Hiding from reality. So Mr. Ullman, I know what it’s like to be entranced by complex and beautiful, pseudoscientific fantasies. I know what it’s like to be “intuitive” and use my considerable, associative, cognitive abilities in service to a fantasy that kept me locked in a comforting, dangerous lie. So you can rail at the strawpersons you’ve built over here, the craven, cold, evil, heartless scientists, in thrall to Big Pharma. But understand this, all of us, even the most science minded, spend much of our lives intentionally distracted from the reality around us, the tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock of time marking the approach of our inevitable end. I used to think that my seeking was a frank and honest facing of my eventual demise, but until I awoke from that childish nonsense, I had no idea how much of my life and the true splendor of the terrible/beautiful universe I was missing.

I know from personal experience that there is nothing I can say that will snap you out of your comforting worldview, but know this, there’s a combination of events both internal and external that can strip all that away in a flash and you’ll be the better for it. Just look for what you’re afraid of most . . . oh, wait, you read this blog, you’re probably already on your way.

@ Edith Prickly:

The thing that *bothers* me about *natural childbirth* are the whiners and complainers who b!tch that they missed out on the experience…because their infant was in distress…and they had a C-section to ensure baby’s health.

@ Eith Prickly: Look at all the home births…underwater…in their own bath tubs or in “birthing tubs”. Cripes, the *testimonials* about orgasms during home births are downright creepy.

That link is part of this website, with this motto “If you want the job done right…do it yourself”.

http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/

I picture The Denice made of finest silica, on slightly larger than nano scale, by genetically engineered diatoms.

No, no, go for opal — silica nanoparticles stacked up in a 3D diffraction grating.

The cuttlefish’s body is slightly flat with a supple fin. Similarly, the Sepia woman has a tendency to have masculine features

Check whether the head-of-department is an Octopus before entering the lift with him.

Personally, I can’t imagine anything more uncomfortable or unsafe than giving birth in a freaking bathtub. But then, I’ve been brainwashed by Big Obstetrics.

@evilDoug

It is somehow fitting that a discussion of silica found its way into a thread on integrative medicine. Both tend to adsorb all manner of crap drifting around in their vicinities.

See also the “silica hypothesis”, explained by Dana here:

I’m glad that you already knew this…and that you knew about the “silica hypothesis” that suggests that the silicate fragments that fall off the walls of the glass (6ppm) in the making of a homeopathic medicine. How can you say with a straight face that this would not or could not influence water structure? Is it just a coincidence that silica has a tendency to store and to broadcast information?

Is it just a coincidence that silica has a tendency to store and to broadcast information?

Well computer chips are made out silicon, so obviously particles of silica floating about in water are exactly the same as a computer.

@ herr doktor bimler:

Alhough opal is quite lovely and sparkly, I am rather boringly white and unlike most of the relatives I resemble I missed out on the dark hair ( that becomes perfectly silver) so I am white as a sheet** and blonde. Fading into the woodwork. Fortunately, I know how to dress or I would be hopeless.

** remember when sheets were white?

Edith — given that a frighteningly high percentage of fatal slips and falls occur in the bathtub, I’d think that’s the last place I’d want to be while in labor. Never mind the risks of the baby drowing, infection control, etc. When I was in labor, I was not especially steady on my feet. Anyone asking me to get into a tub, even with assistance, would have been met with the Glare of Death.

I just noticed something else in ReikiDoc’s quoted material:

I have spent more time than I care to admit in The heart room. It just gets spooky: there are some patients, who out of fear or whatever, do NOT want to be there.

Huh. Imagine that. Patients not totally enthused to be in the hospital having a cardiac procedure done. And I would’ve thought everybody there would be just SOOO excited to have a transesophageal echocardiogram or whatever! That just sounds like a bucket of fun! And I’m sure they don’t have *any* worries about what might be found. I mean, why would they be there otherwise?

*sigh* Sad, really. Yes, if your doctor suspects heart disease, you’re supposed to still be happy and optimistic and cheerful, even about the very uncomfortable procedure you’re about to endure. And if you’re not, it will go horribly wrong and be all your fault. Lovely person.

So are we to believe that all homeopathic succussion that has ever been done and deemed to have “success” by homeopaths was done in glass containers? Not a single one has ever used plastic or any other non-silicate material?

So the silica nanoparticles are the latest moving of the homeopathy goalposts? Good to know.

Good grief, project much Dana Ullman? Is that all you have, that infamous woo-meister whine when confronted with the questions about this latest homeopathy nonsense – ‘you’re all horrible, terrible, nasty, pseudoskeptics yourselves’. Yep. Convinces me that you and your colleagues are correct and we can ignore the sum total of scientific knowledge of chemistry, physics and biology. NOT.

Anteaus Feldspar:
There’s a fair amount of ‘homepathic’ remedies for sale in chemist’s shops over here in Aus that I doubt have been anywhere near glass. Stainless steel and a plastic of some form or other, but glass… I doubt it. 🙂

** remember when sheets were white?

I suppose I do need to do laundry.

When sheets are white, mind is not white.

Is it just a coincidence that silica has a tendency to store and to broadcast information?
I imagine this is aimed at convincing the crystal enthusiasts among Dana’s readership, for whom it is an article of faith that a quartz crystal needs to be tuned to the owner’s psyche before it will work.

I have spent more time than I care to admit in The heart room. It just gets spooky: there are some patients, who out of fear or whatever, do NOT want to be there.

Calli, “Huh. Imagine that. Patients not totally enthused to be in the hospital having a cardiac procedure done. “

This is such a tough decision. Let me think about this. Who would I trust with my life? A “needy” surgeon who insists that the operating room table be adjusted just right, or a pendulum swinging, multi-tasking nutcase who texts her kid while she sedates a patient during major surgery.

I would feel so much better if someone would assure me that the California Medical Board has opened an investigation into this freakin lunatic excuse of a doctor. Harsh?

I said “without further comment”, buuut….
Put silica kitty litter in box.
Kitty adds information to the silica.
Take silica from box, put in hot oven.
Silica broadcasts information.

“one could actually argue that the homeopath has less potential for mischief than the holistic doctor…”

I understand that’s the usual appraisal of why Hahneman and his original followers seemed to produce good results compared to their contemporaries: Back when most doctors had little or no idea what they were doing, the homeopaths were the ones who did the least damage. Hahneman also seems to have been forward-thinking in using restraint in dosage, before he (literally) watered down his results.

David N. Brown
Mesa, Arizona
http://www.exotroopers.wordpress.com

The cuttlefish’s body is slightly flat with a supple fin. Similarly, the Sepia woman has a tendency to have masculine features, including flat-chestedness, and with their supple legs, they love to exercise, especially dancing and aerobics.

Now I am wondering whether Sepia women have the ability to conceal themselves behind a cloud of ink while they make their escape; and if so, if they are over-represented in the legal profession.

Herr Doktor, I was in a Bushmaster Bar just the other night lookin’ for love in this crazy burg, when I hit on a Sepia woman by mistake. Lady totally looked like a dude. “How awkward” I said, “Feck it, let’s dance” said she. After an hour on the dance floor, a Lachesis man gets hungry, so we headed to the bar for some homeoguacamole, the house specialty made with 30C Jalapeño and fresh avogadro. We talked and danced all night, but when closing time finally settled around us, Sepia woman ended up leaving the Bushmaster with this Nux Vomica Man we’d both been eyeing. I walked home alone through the mean, insubstantial streets of Hahnemannburg wondering if the two of them would find succuss, and if our homeopaths would ever cross again.

Now I am wondering whether Sepia women have the ability to conceal themselves behind a cloud of ink while they make their escape; and if so, if they are over-represented in the legal profession.

As I have remarked in another context, I have seen a Sepia woman. Or, more appropriately, a woman covered with sepia after an adventure in the preparation of squid. Oddly enough, she was a ballet and modern dancer, and one might observe that these endeavors are not all that welcoming to abundant bosoms. Some sort of claptrap about the moment of inertia, but I don’t buy it for a moment. Anyway, now a Ph.D. in philosophy. The relevant lawyers that I have known seem to have legs like hickory; perhaps the de rigeuer heels are the antipode of pointe shoes on the Great Sphere of Ill-Conceived Footwear.

wondering if the two of them would find succuss, and if our homeopaths would ever cross again
[Applause]

Do other readers of Dana’s effusion find themelves reading out his description of Lachesis in a Vincent Price voice?

I have just read down to his account of Amanita muscaria, which manages to combine magical thinking with out-of-date toxicology:

It is therefore not simply a coincidence that this wild, colorful fungus would create wild, colorful hallucinations. Its most active ingredient is muscarine

Dana could have checked with sources that are not half a century out-of-date, but then he would not be a homeopath.

@ Narad:

Ill- conceived footwear ?* Au contraire*!

If you consult the tables of average heights for men vs women, you’ll note than the average difference nearly corresponds to popular heel heights for women. If boys surpass girls by 4-5 inches ( see wikipedia tables), you’ll find that popular heights for heels are 90-100 mm **. ( Of course, pointe adds even more : length looks good on stage)

Being taller may work its magic in many ways: women feel better, clothes look better, people can look each other in the eye, men notice what body parts are accentuated by mincing about in spikey heels etc
I’ll leave out the part about how heels might impede mobility.

However, moderate heels allow me to stride around food stores like an Amazon. Men don’t seem to mind..

** unless if you’re 20-something then any height goes. See Lady Gaga and Nicky Minaj.

Definitely Vincent Price. And speaking of price, whatever became of ol’ Dana? I was looking forward to some more earnestly mirth-inducing Danasplainin’ for our edification. I guess we’ll just have to be grateful that we still have Marg. Our Lady of the Latter Day Thingy was just sputtering and projecting over on the Reiki thread. Go say hello to her . . .

Upon further perusal of Dana’s webpage, I am forced to the conclusion that I am a Nux person: “coarse, closeminded, and hard-headed”.

Some of the characteristics of a Cactus person also fit: they “are known to have a thirst (1), during the heat (1), after the heat (1), for small quantities (1), and for small quantities often (1).” But if I were to claim to be a Cactus person, someone else would no doubt exclaim “You cannot be Cereus!”

yes, Vincent “Theatre of Blood” Price

@Pareidolius brilliant bar trolling in the Wooniverse scenario, “the mean insubstantial streets of Hahnemannburg”

I’ll be smiling all day.

Returning one last time to Dana’s “Understanding Nature to Learn Materia Medica” webpage, in the process of writing a blogpost, I discover that Dana is under the impression that strychnine is not poisonous to cats. This would come as a surprise to veterinarians and to many bereaved cat owners.

I also discovered that Edward C. Whitmont — evidently Dana’s mentor in the homeopathy scam — describes cancer as “number one on the list of psychosomatic disorders”. The words, they have failed me.

Ullmann’s final admonition:
there is so much that naturalists can learn from homeopathy by carefully studying the information derived from our provings and from our clinical practice.

This may seem terribly obvious, but I don’t see the woos acknowledging it: If I have a spot on my skin that might be cancerous, I don’t want holistic medicine, I want an expert in dermatology who will diagnose and treat the spot. Similarly, if I have a colon polyp, I want an expert GI doctor to find it and remove it. And allow me to add one other point: The only holistic doctors out there are the ones who have gone through the full MD program and learned enough about the human body as a whole that they can practice their specialties without missing some other important thing. But the way they practice holistic medicine is to send patients to other specialists when they run across something that is out of their comfort zone. The naturopaths and other inadequate healers may be holistic, but they are not doctors in any effective sense because they have inadequate knowledge of the totality of the human condition. Perhaps the medical profession would be better off pointing out that all MDs are holistic doctors at one level or another, and the difference between them and the woo artists is one of competence.

I understand that the whole question is kind of a straw man argument anyway, and most people will opt for real medical treatment unless they lack insurance. I suspect that unfortunately, a lot of the driving force for “alternative” therapies is, in fact, financial. Perhaps one of the knowledgeable people here could tell us whether countries with universal systems like France, Germany, or Japan have higher or lower usages of alternative therapies. Please ignore the horrid cases of terminal cancer in children and the use of Texas clinics if you should desire to take on this question.

Dana is well known as a coward, even in the realm of his very own HuffPo endeavors. On the off chance that he pops back in, it will be even dumber and nothing more than an attempt to reset the clock.

“strychnine is not poisonous to cats”
Based on info from the Merck Veterinary Manual, I calculate its toxicity to cats at around half a tonne of dead cats per teaspoon.

Did you know hair contains silica according to D’Ullman? He really is clueless.

evilDoug: Well, I don’t know about you, but in the summer, there is a very good chance that my hair will contain silica. The question is, does he mean all the time?

Did you know hair contains silica according to D’Ullman? He really is clueless.

It was clear from a visit to Ullman’s website that he will not let himself be ruled by fact-checkers. He seems to have been playing “Let’s pretend” the entire time he was writing it, with “Well it feels right” as the guiding principle behind every statement. The whole website is a mushy pabulum, an unstructured miasma of metaphors presented as if they form an argument. I blame post-modernism.

People in the mood for entertainment could track down Dr Edward Whitmore upon whom Ullman relies heavily… who described cancer as a “psychosomatic disorder”. That was before he died of cancer himself, of course. I learned from Whitmore’s writings that the high point of medical science was Paracelsus and it’s all been downhill since the 16th century.

…..I am just amazed about the science EGO in those posts…till I am finding out that Dr. Orac is a surgeon….big sigh…relief…

I read the other day that in the near future robots will take over his profession. After skipping through these blog entries and responses, I am actually looking forward to it….

All the best for your continued efforts to dehumanize medicine….

Hi Cloudy Thinking, please come back when you have something besides tone trolling to offer. You haven’t pointed out a single place where Orac is incorrect; you’ve just made whiny accusations that he wasn’t sufficiently coddling for your liking.

I once read a magazine article about homeopathy. The whole introduction was about how holistic it was, taking into account the whole patient, personalizing treatments on a case-by-case basis, etc.

The rest of the article was a list of ailments and the specific homeopathic remedy one should use for each.

I thought that was hilarious at the time, but the amazing thing is it wasn’t just that article – all texts on homeopathy do that. It’s very focused on each remedy having specific effects and applying to specific ailments. And why wouldn’t it be given its origins. But that’s the antithesis of “holistic” ! And I don’t understand how proponents of homeopathy don’t see that.

It’s almost as if “holistic” was a buzzword devoid of meaning to them or something.

All the best for your continued efforts to dehumanize medicine….

You might want to review your Organon. There’s a reason that “patients” are only considered as symptom constellations, and that is that the lone cause of disease is axiomatically an impediment to the free flow of undifferentiated cosmic glop.

I read the other day that in the near future robots will take over his profession. After skipping through these blog entries and responses, I am actually looking forward to it….

Haven’t they already ? Or are we not counting a box of blinking lights as a “robot” ? 🙂

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