Vibrations. Toujours des vibrations. Just ask Dr. William Edwin Gray III.
Yes, when it comes to certain forms of quackery, it’s always vibrations. This time is no different. It’s a rather amusing form of quackery that I somehow missed when it appeared in the news last week. I figured that, after the deep dive I took into an important clinical trial yesterday, discussing a rather odd bit of vibrational woo might be a nice break before taking on anything heavy again. Besides, there’s someone we know in one of the news stories about the saga, and, I figure, better late than never. So consider this a little catchup. Besides, as the story involves homeopathy (or, as I like to refer to it ), and both involve the depths of looniness to which homeopaths will descend.
First, let’s take a look at “Dr.” William Edwin Gray III:
The website promises that audio recordings can cure dozens of ailments — among them diarrhea, anxiety, labor pains, malaria, even a pet’s infection.
Dr. William Edwin Gray III, a homeopathic doctor who practices in the Bay Area, sells these so-called eRemedies for $5 on his website. Each recording is 13 seconds long and consists of what Gray described as “a hissing sound.”
“Thirty-six out of 37 people were cured of their malaria symptoms within three to four hours with just a few doses,” Gray, 75, said in an interview. “It works really well in practice, and I’m still trying to develop investors and so on to promote it so it can be marketed and more widely used.”
At this point, you might be wondering: What does this have to do with homeopathy? Fear not, it’s coming:
The physician even claims to have cured three cases of ebola in 2014 “simply by playing the appropriate eRemedy several times in an hour.”
His site describes his sound wave treatments as homeopathic even though homeopathy involves using minute amounts of natural substances in highly diluted solutions to treat illnesses. Gray supposedly harvests the energy of the homeopathic potions by converting it to sound waves via a coil connected to an amplifier and digitizer. The sound waves are then stored on devices as .wav files or MP3 files.
OK, even by the standards of homeopathy, this is pretty ridiculous. I just had to go to Gray’s website and find out what this was all about. So far, neither news story tells me how this could have anything to do with homeopathy. Basically, what Gray does is to ask a bunch of questions about the patient’s conditions on a survey, and his device does…something. The result of this “something” is a waveform of some sort that results in a hissing sound. How do the questions provide information that can produce the sound? Who knows? At least, who knew after reading the news articles?
So let’s go to the source, where Gray claims that “eRemedies are based on a provisionally patented system technology based on homeopathic principles,” claiming that it can help fever, influenza, diarrhea, injuries, head injury, back pain, childbirth complications, pet abscess or cystitis, malaria, typhoid, cholera. Wow. That’s a pretty definitive list!
Next up is a description of the general principles of homeopathy. I’ll assume that my regular readers know that it’s The One Quackery To Rule Them All and why. Basically, it assumes that you can treat symptoms with something that causes the same symptoms and that diluting a remedy, even dilution to the point where not a single molecule of original remedy remain, can make the remedy stronger. Basically, homeopathy is based on pre-scientific vitalistic beliefs rooted in the concepts of sympathetic magic.
Oh, OK. I can’t resist. Gray explains the extreme implausibility of homeopathy, and I can’t resist mocking it:
A common criticism of homeopathy is the fact that the remedies are made past there being even a molecule left. How could it work if there is no chemical? Well, there is a well-documented scientific answer.
When something is in solution, water molecules form shells around the individual ions and molecules of the original substance. This is how it is kept in solution. Vigorous pounding breaks these water molecule shells into small nanometer-sized clusters. When they are diluted (by serial dilutions), their size increases. The more the solution is pounded and diluted, the more these clusters are created. Most importantly, these clusters carry the same energy as the original substance, because that is how the clusters formed in the first place!
Clusters have been viewed by electron microscope, measured in size by Atomic Force Microscopy, defined spectrophotometrically, and been validated by innumerable scientific studies clinically.
Hence, homeopathic remedies are an elegant way of getting rid of the original substance while putting its energy into the water as a vehicle. And, this elegant process has been used for over two centuries!
No. Just no. Water clusters are not a mechanism by which homeopathy could work. You’ll note how Gray doesn’t provide a single bit of evidence to support his claims. Water clusters don’t exist, at least not in the way homeopaths seem to think that they do.
If you really want amusement, though, you should scroll further down on this page:
As described, the energetic signal in homeopathic remedies can be extracted via a device consisting of a simple coil connected to an amplifier and digitizer, and the resulting signal can be stored on a computer as a .wav file or a MP3 file. This technique was developed originally in the 1990s by Jacques Benveniste, a French researcher doing immunology research. He demonstrated this in repeated laboratory experiments.
Of course, homeopathic principles require choosing the correct remedy in a given sudden onset (acute) situation, so Coherence Apps LLC has taken the next step and designed eRemedy selection algorithms based on homeopathic principles. This entails answering very detailed and specific questions; the resulting pattern of answers is unique and individualized to the user; the algorithmic engine then selects and plays the appropriate eRemedy. The process of creating eRemedies and then using them on humans via cellphone or computer (as opposed to limiting their use to laboratory experiments) has now been patented by Coherence Apps LLC.
Benveniste. He had to invoke Benveniste. If you recall, Benveniste was taken in by his own beliefs to the point that it took a magician, James Randi, to demonstrate where Benveniste had gone wrong. Basically, there’s no science here, and whatever algorithm Gray has cooked up is probably about as good as making stuff up. The inclusion of various illustrations and circuit diagrams in Gray’s blatherings do not impress me.
In particular, the way Gray created these homeopathic sound stylings is just crazy:
Gray said he created the recordings by placing vials of homeopathic liquids in an electrified wire coil and recording the noise that was emitted. The healing power of the liquid, he said, was transmitted into the sound waves he captured.
Although 263 different recordings are available, the human ear cannot distingush one from another, he said, but the different frequencies of vibration can be “picked up by the body as a whole.”
Because, of course they were.
Let’s just put it this way. When your claims embarrass actual homeopaths, you have truly hit a low:
Robert Stewart, founder of the New York School of Homeopathy, distanced the school from Gray’s techniques.
“It is clear to me that what he is doing has nothing to do with homeopathy,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s on his own in this.”
I’m telling ya. You can’t make stuff like this up. Worse, there’s an even nuttier cae of homeopathic silliness out there that I could blog about if I were to decide to do so.