Over the last decade that I’ve been at this blogging thing, I’ve come across some incredibly irresponsible quackery, but what I saw about a week and a half ago took the cake. I’m referring to practitioners of The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy, demonstrating a sense delusion that was as massive as the concentration of a 30C homeopathic dilution is small when they proposed that homeopathy could be used ot treat Ebola virus disease. There are not enough facepalms face palmy enough to express the disgust at the utter ridiculousness and irresponsibility of even suggesting that magic water can do anything about one of the most deadly infectious diseases out there. It’s of a piece of homeopaths’ insistence that homeopathy could be used to stop the H1N1 influenza pandemic back in 2009 or that victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic did better than those treated with conventional medicine, only even more delusional, given how much higher the case fatality rate is for Ebola.
I thought I’d revisit this, not because homeopathy is any less nonsensical as a treatment for anything, least of all Ebola virus disease, but rather because of a rather amusing incident that occurred today. On Sunday night, you, my readers, started sending me this link over at Mike Adams’ font of all things quackery, NaturalNews.com, entitled Treating Ebola with Homeopathy. I was thinking of blogging about it, but decided not to because I thought at the time: I’ve already written about this topic once, and I don’t see anything in the post to resurrect the topic. I thought that maybe I’d do it for yesterday—or maybe not, depending on what popped up. The post kept popping up on Twitter as an example of extreme foolishness. Then, last night I saw someone Tweet at me that Mike Adams had taken the post down. Given his proud embrace of all quackery, at first I couldn’t believe it. So I checked it out, and, yes, this is what I found:
Natural News was made aware of a blog post that seemed to recommend a highly questionable method related to Ebola prevention. The blog post has been removed pending further investigation, and the blogger is under review. Natural News does not condone any member of the public attempting to interact with Ebola, a very hazardous biological threat.
RELATED NEWS: Ebola vaccine to be manufactured by criminal drug company with felony record http://www.naturalnews.com/046414_Ebola_vaccine_safety_testing_drug_company_profits.html
Whoa. I couldn’t believe it. Here, it appears, was a post so irresponsible that it was too irresponsible even for Mike Adams, a post that was too quacky for the quackmaster himself! That’s some weapons-grade quackery, a black hole of stupidity, and any other mixing of metaphors for ridiculousness I could think of. Oddly enough, the post wasn’t written by Mike Adams himself, as most of the posts that are the most disconnected with anything resembling reality are at that website. Rather, it was written by a Norwegian blogger named Ken Oftedal, who describes himself thusly:
Kjetill Oftedal, a Norwegian by birth, physicist, systems analyst and homeopath by education, multilingual at an early age–a result of being raised in the U.S., Norway and the Dutch West Indies–has lived and worked in various professions in a number of European countries and the U.S. Kjetill Oftedal has worked as a sailor, salesman, night guard, electrical engineer, North Sea offshore engineer and in the Sahara; tutor, high-school, adult education and university teacher; director of personal enhancement training institutions in Spain and Portugal; systems analyst, computer programmer; classical homeopath, multilingual translator, webmaster, managing director of a school and clinic of classical homeopathy he established in Spain.
There’s more there, so much more, but let’s move on to what Oftedal actually claimed. The original post is gone, and the Google cache didn’t locate it. The Yahoo! cache, however, happened still to have a copy of the original post. (I guess the Google cache updates more often than the Yahoo! cache.)
Because I don’t want anyone to forget the sort of quackery that homeopaths are pushing for Ebola virus disease, I’m going to quote liberally from this post. The introduction is nothing special, though. It rehashes the same sorts of claims about homeopathy that I mentioned above, such as the ridiculous claim that homeopathy was so successful treating the 1918 pandemic, a claim often regurgitated by homeopaths without any actual verifiable evidence. Oftedal also claims that homeopathy has “well-documented success rates in, among others, scarlet fever, polio, cholera and flu epidemics, and offers a viable alternative to standard vaccination called homeoprophylaxis.” You know what they call someone who relies on “homeoprophylaxis”? Very ill. Or dead.
Here’s where the rationale for using homeopathy is explained:
After being infected with the Ebola virus, symptoms may appear as soon as after two days and as late as 21 days, the average period being 8–10 days.
Symptoms of Ebola can be similar to those of malaria, cholera, dengue fever, viral hemorrhaging fevers and tropical fevers.
Ebola usually starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, fatigue, muscle pain, abdominal pain and headache. There may also be chest pain, hiccups, shortness of breath, difficulty in swallowing and a red rash.
In this phase of Ebola, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, liver and kidney problems appear, as well as problems with blood clotting, leading to bleeding.
The final stage of Ebola is the bloody one: red, bleeding eyes, bloody vomit, bloody stools, red or purple spots on the skin, localized collections of blood in the skin (hematoma), bleeding from body orifices.
The symptoms described above for Ebola resemble symptoms produced in healthy persons who took one of the following homeopathic remedies— including symptoms of people who were bitten by the snake concerned:
- Crotalus Horridus (made from rattlesnake venom— fits the Ebola symptoms picture 95%)
- Lachesis (made from venom of the bushmaster snake)
- Bothrops (made from the venom of the yellow viper found on the island of Martinique)
- Phosphorus (made from the element of the same name—relates to internal bleeding)
Thus, the symptom pictures of these remedies (check the Internet) should be examined for a match for the Ebola symptoms seen in a patient. Use the remedy with the closest match to treat the patient.
This demonstrates just how magical the magical thinking of homeopaths is. I note that these remedies are basically a subset of the homeopathic remedies recommended the last time homeopaths claimed to be able to treat Ebola. This looks like the four remedies recommended by Gail Derin and Vickie Menear.
I also can’t help but note how homeopaths are so wrong that they’re not even wrong when they accuse “conventional” doctors of just “treating symptoms.” After all, homeopathy is nothing but treating symptoms! Think about it. Based on a relatively vague similarity between the symptoms of Ebola virus disease and envenomation with rattlesnake, bushmaster snake, or yellow viper venom, homeopaths claim that such snake venom diluted to nonexistence can treat Ebola. Ebola symptoms are caused by the action of the Ebola virus. There is no reason to think that any of these snake venoms has any activity against Ebola virus, and Ebola victims are not likely to be cured without something that halts the activity of the virus.
The really hilarious thing, though, is how Oftedal then presents as evidence of the efficacy of Crotalus Horridus homeopathic remedy the story of a 54 year old man bitten by a rattlesnake on the middle finger and treated conventionally. It’s claimed that the medical personnel gave up, but this man supposedly was miraculously cured by Crotalus Horridus 30C in the form of a few pills of this remedy dissolved in four ounces of water, of which he took a teaspoon every hour. Why every hour? Who knows? Why not? What really made me howl with laughter, though, was this:
This case has an interesting parallel, as at that time, 1892 [when this miraculous cure was supposedly reported], there was no anti-venom available for this case, just as there is no cure nor vaccine for Ebola at present—and, lo and behold, a homeopathic remedy cured the case in short order.
Yes, because Ebola is just like that. By that rationale, though, homeopaths should be proposing taking Ebola virus and diluting it to homeopathic dilutions, then using that to treat Ebola virus disease! Oh, wait. Oftedal proposes exactly that:
How to Make Your Own Ebola Remedy
What you need:
- A face mask and gloves
- Two bottles (50 ml up to 500 ml glass or plastic bottles) with caps
- Clean water (mineral or tap water)
- An Ebola sample: some spit or other disease product, such as blood, from a person infected with Ebola, or who is suspected sick with it. Any small quantity will do, even a pinhead.
- An alcoholic liquid, such as whisky, brandy, rum, etc.
- Half an hour of your time.
- Fill the bottle with water, leaving about 20% space at the top.
- Place the Ebola sample in the water in the bottle.
- Close the top of the bottle with the cap.
- Hold the bottle and strike it hard against a solid surface, such as a large book, 40 times.
- Pour out the contents of the bottle.
- Refill the bottle with water (the fluid remaining on the inside surface of the bottle will serve as the next Ebola sample).
- Repeat steps 3 to 6 a total of 30 times.
- Pour the bottle solution into another bottle—your stock bottle.
- Add 10% by volume of the alcoholic liquid (whisky, brandy, etc.) as a preservative.
- Store in a place away from sunlight and electronic equipment.
Using this stock bottle, you can supply the Ebola remedy to as many people you want. With one drop from the stock bottle as an Ebola sample you can produce another stock bottle to give to someone else. Instead of the original Ebola sample you used above to make the original stock bottle, you use a drop from the first stock bottle. This process can be carried out ad infinitum, supplying a whole city, etc., if needed.
OK, now. I know we skeptics joke about homeopathic remedies being diluted so much that it’s unlikely that a single molecule is left. So this shouldn’t be a problem, right? After all, what a homeopath who does this should have left is just water, right? Well, I wouldn’t count on it. All it takes is for one or a few Ebola virus particles to cling to the surface of the bottle. The bigger problem, though, is this: What do you do with all the water being used to dilute the Ebola virus? The water discarded during the first few dilutions is likely to be chock full of virus, given how much virus can be found in the blood and secretions of victims. Imagine the potential for accidental self-infection or infection of others if that water deposits Ebola on surfaces where people can touch it, get it on their skin, and then, as people so frequently do, get it on their mucus membranes by either rubbing their eyes, picking their nose, or eating something by hand. It’s insanity! Also, the thought of striking a glass bottle containing Ebola virus-laced water doesn’t sound like the most brilliant plan in the world. What if the bottle breaks? Plastic’s only little better.
You know what’s also insanity? The claim that this solution can be used to prevent Ebola infection. I kid you not. Oftedal recommends mixing a teaspoonful of this remedy into a cup of water and taking a sip once or twice a day. If a person believes this will protect him against infection, that person might become careless with universal fluid precautions and slip up, thus letting himself be infected. In that case, if you’re unfortunate enough to be infected with Ebola virus, Oftedal recommends making a cup o’ cup o’ Ebola homeopathy the same way but taking a sip every 15 minutes until the victim feels better. This is known as letting oneself die. Even if you put electrolytes in it, it wouldn’t even be enough water to rehydrate the victim!
As if this isn’t quackery enough, Oftedal cautions:
There should be no taste in your mouth on taking a homeopathic remedy. Thus, you should not eat or drink anything (besides water) at least fifteen minutes before and after taking it.
This also applies to smoking. Nor should there be any strong odor, such as from perfume, incense, etc. present in the room. You can take a homeopathic remedy any time of the day or night, keeping these points in mind.
Avoid touching a pill with your fingers as your energy field can neutralize the information carried. Use the remedy container cap instead, or some other means, to throw a pill onto your tongue. Allow the remedy to dissolve on your tongue as if it were a piece of candy (actually it is in a way, since it consists of milk sugar, i.e., lactose, plus a trace of alcohol, and curative information). Liquid remedies are dripped onto the tongue.
Wait at least ten minutes before eating or drinking anything besides water. Afterwards you can eat and drink as you normally do.
“Curative information”? More milk sugar, plus a trace of alcohol, nothing more! I do note how Oftedal builds in an excuse for when the homeopathic remedy fails. The person taking it must have mucked up its “curative information” somehow, either by touching it or handling it inappropriately. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Of course, he fails to explain why touching the homeopathic pill with one’s hands will muck up the “curative information” contained therein, but letting it touch the tongue and inside of the mouth, as is necessary to consume it, doesn’t. He does educate me about one thing, though. Remember all those “homeopathic suicide attempts,” in which a skeptic or skeptics down a whole bottle of homeopathic remedy, to prove that homeopathy is water? Oftedal tells us why nothing happens to these skeptics, explaining:
Therefore, please remember that you only need to take one single pill, just one, not all the pills in the container, as some patients have done. Taking all the pills would have the same effect as taking one pill, so you might as well save the rest for another occasion.
This is, of course, true, because homeopathy is nothing but water or the sugar making up the pill. Thanks for making skeptics’ point for them! Hilariously, contrary to the case for virtually all NaturalNews.com posts, the comments after this one were overwhelmingly negative, with quite a few comments castigating Oftedal for irresponsibility and saying, in essence, “You first.” They’re still there on the page left after Adams took down the post.
In any case, you might wonder why I had to take on this particular topic again. The answer is easy. I’ve never before encountered quackery too irresponsible for even Mike Adams. Now I have. Thanks, Ken Oftedal! I’m not likely to see the like of this again. Oh, and Mr. Adams. I have, of course, saved the entire text of the post, which is actually probably twice or three times the length of what I’ve cited. You might try to forget, but the Internet, like rock ‘n’ roll, never forgets.
ADDENDUM: Here’s another quack too quacky even for Mike Adams, a woman by the name of Angela A. Dockter-Harris, who Tweeted:
Got asked about Ebola again. What to do, what can be done. Remember a few simple things. 1. Stock you home… http://t.co/p3JMCCjW8x
— Angela A Dockter (@AngelaADockter) August 9, 2014
The link leads to this Facebook post:
Full text (in case Ms. Docktor-Harris decides to throw this Facebook post down the memory hole):
Got asked about Ebola again. What to do, what can be done. Remember a few simple things. 1. Stock you home medicine cabinets NOW. Don’t wait. Stuff has to be ordered and shipped, and in a panic, companies who have protocols that can potentially help will run out and shipping takes time. 2. The body IS designed to be self-healing. 3. Given #2 prepare your body now. Detox. Support the immune system, support the drainage pathways. 4. In simple terms (not to make light of it) it is viral. There ARE remedies that can help the body ward off/fight viruses. 5. With homeopathy COMBINED with bioenergetic medicine we can customize remedies specifically for this (and any virus or toxin). Can we guarantee a “cure”? By law, no. And even modern medicine can’t give guarantees. But can you be armed? Prepared? Supplied? Yes. Contact us today for info on what we might recommend for you to start stocking up remedies for your family medicine cabinet. For everyday health. For this health scare — if you are concerned.
That’s right. Homeopathy isn’t enough. Apparently you need “bioenergetic medicine” and “detoxification” too. (Of course you do.) Science weeps. Dead Ebola victims weep.
ADDENDUM: Not content to let his post be taken down at NaturalNews.com, Ken Oftedal has reposted it at his own blog.