Memory of Water

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I. Vecchi

Jun 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/27/99

I have read with interest the recent contributions to this list on
Benveniste's results about the "memory of water". I would like to
recommend to anyone interested in this topic to examine the article by
Hirst et al. "Human basophil degranulation is not triggered by very
dilute antiserum against human IgE" (Nature, 366, 525-527). It is a
peculiar paper, attributing all the results which are incompatible with
its overall conclusions to unidentified systematic flaws in its own
experiments and dismissing its own statistical data above the
significance threshold as due to "chance". The authors appear to
recognize that their data are incompatible with their null hypothesis,
i.e. with the assumption that there is no difference between potentized
solutions and placebo (p. 527, right column): "According to conventional
scientific theory, there should be no differences within a session
between the control treatment and the eight high-dilution treatments.
... This is not the case ....". Indeed, despite its overall conclusions,
which explicitly deny the replicability of Benveniste's results, if
taken seriously the paper's content might provide independent
confirmation to the main claims made in Benveniste's original article ,
except that no recursive waves are observed.
The value p=0.0027 in Table 2 in Hirst et al represents the chance that
experimental data are random, under the assumption that there be no
difference between succussed high dilutions and placebo. This may be
reformulated as saying that the experimental data confirm within a 99.7%
level of confidence that there is a difference between succussed high
dilutions and placebo.
The paper is generally accessible, so anybody can make up his/her mind.


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