James de Meo points out a curious semantic footnote to this affair. The name for the hypothetical medium through which light was thought to travel has been spelled in two ways: as ‘ether’ and also as ‘aether’. In late medieval times when the word was coined it was spelled aether. In the period 1850-1920 when the topic was current in physics and used regularly by physicists such as Sir Oliver Lodge, Michael Faraday, Nicola Tesla, Michelson and Morley, and even by Einstein, the term was spelled ‘ether’. In the 1950s, after Miller’s death, when a concerted effort was being made to denigrate his work, the medieval ‘aether’ spelling suddenly re-appeared. On the face of it, the use of this spelling was to avoid confusion with the anaesthetic fluid ether. But it also appears to have been part of an attempt to ‘relegate the ether of space into ancient history, as an unproven speculation similar to Aristotlian elements of “fire, air, water and earth”.’
Although difficult to prove in a way, I do believe that the healing of one individual creates an energy shift in others. We see this most easily in the shifts observed in the proximate family of a patient, but we can see this also on a larger scale. I have at least 2 cases where an orphan patient, immediately following the remedy, was contacted by his birth family living on another continent, after several decades of searching for their roots without any success. This clearly indicates an effect on a larger scale, not just the immediate surroundings of the patient, and this effect is bound to reflect some healing occurring at the level of the birth family.
When someone heals, I believe that something in the group heals, because we all participate in the energetic make-up of the universe, so the shift in one's energy is bound to be experienced by others, without limitations of time and/or space.
An interesting related question is whether each successful or accurate prescription of a remedy decreases the need for that particular field of consciousness to express itself through human experience. If that were the case it might help us understand why some homeopaths are perceiving fewer cases of the well known “polycrests”, and working on perceiving the fields of consciousness of up-til-now little known remedies.
I will say that it has been clear to many of us that some groups of remedies have appeared when there was a new need for humanity. I can think for example of bird remedies a few years back, then radioactive remedies, and now lanthanides. This evolution indicates that humans are facing new challenges at the level of the vital force, and that we need to continue investigating homeopathic answers to these challenges, and maybe this is the area where previously little-known remedies become important, and become relatively big remedies. Whether polychrests or other well-known remedies are less required or less recognized by homeopaths, I cannot say this. I believe that there will always be an important role for these remedies and I see them daily in my practice. In my opinion they constitute the backbone of our prescribing, and we simply add additional options to this backbone with newer remedies in order to be able to face new challenges and modern diseases.
An often-repeated claim is that disease organisms, such as tuberculosis, are ‘evolving’ to become resistant to antibiotics such as penicillin. There’s no doubt that antibiotic-resistant strains of disease organism are becoming prevalent – but is this Darwinian evolution or simply Darwinian myth making? The talk.origins “FAQ” makes repeated reference to the ‘evolution of antibiotic resistance.’ A representative example is the essay entitled ‘The Evolution of Improved Fitness By Random Mutation Plus Selection’, in which Dr Edward E. Max says:
However, the experiments necessary to demonstrate a beneficial mutation can be done with laboratory organisms that multiply rapidly, and indeed such experiments have shown that rare beneficial mutations can occur. For instance, from a single bacterium one can grow a population in the presence of an antibiotic, and demonstrate that organisms surviving this culture have mutations in genes that confer antibiotic resistance. In this case (in contrast to the situation with the peppered moth populations described above) origin of the population from a single bacterium allows comparisons of the mutated genes with the corresponding genes from the original bacterium, verifying that the variant sequences were not present before the culture with antibiotics and therefore arose as de novo beneficial mutations.
On the face of it, claims such as this seem to be strong evidence for Darwinian processes. There is a beneficial genetic mutation; the mutation makes the bacterium better adapted so enabling it to survive and flourish giving rise to offspring that also possess the beneficial mutation; natural selection is seen in action.
And because the appearance of resistance to antibiotics is essentially a modern phenomenon — antibiotics being a twentieth century discovery — it also seems on the face of it to be strong evidence of rapidly breeding organisms evolving a brand new characteristic within the space of a single human lifetime.
For the moment, let us accept that the facts as given by Dr Max are the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (although I shall show later that this is far from the case). If the facts are as presented, then isn’t the case of acquired antibiotic resistance by bacteria strong evidence in favour of Darwinism?
The answer turns out to be ‘no’, even on the facts as given. Darwinism is a theory accounting for speciation — Darwin’s book is concerned with ‘The origin of species’ and it proposes that the species of plant and animal in the world today have arisen gradually from previous species by mutation and natural selection, a process also known as speciation.
Does the acquisition of antibiotic resistance shed any light on the process of speciation? No it does not, because a bacterium (such as E. coli, for example,) which acquires antibiotic resistance remains the same species, E coli.
Some humans have natural disease resistance, some don’t. The same is true for dogs, horses and plants, but this natural resistance hasn’t made them into new species. An aardvark that is tuberculosis-resistant is still an aardvark; a zebra still only a zebra. The acquisition of such resistance provides no evidence on speciation.
It can, of course, be argued that the acquisition of antibiotic resistance by spontaneous mutation is one step on the long road from one species to another. But such an argument is of no use here because whether speciation occurs at all is the very question that is to be proved, scientifically.
Darwinists believe that speciation can and does occur. But when pressed to provide examples of speciation they have signally failed to do so (for a detailed critique of the talk.origin “FAQ” on Speciation, click here).
This is more than mere semantics. It cannot legitimately be argued by Darwinists that the acquisition of antibiotic resistance by mutation is a step along the road to speciation, if they have failed to provide concrete evidence for the existence of such a road in the first place.
Perhaps, then, the acquisition of antibiotic resistance by spontaneous mutation helps Darwinists make the case that advantageous genetic mutations of the Darwinian kind occur? This is more promising for the Darwinist case, but again doesn’t entirely make the grade as evidence. Noone who is in possession of the facts — whether Darwinist or not — doubts that genetic mutations occur. Such mutations are merely DNA copying errors and it would be surprising if they did not occur — since all copying systems are fallible. Many diseases are known, all of which result from genetic mutation — including Down’s syndrome, Huntington’s Chorea and Achondroplasia or dwarfism.
If we accept that the acquisition of antibiotic resistance does open the door to the possibility of beneficial genetic mutations, does this materially assist Darwinists? I do not think so. My reason for saying this is that the feature in question is almost trivial in comparison with the kind of beneficial genetic mutations that would have to happen for speciation to occur: mutations such as the feathered wing, the mammalian eye or even the human hand. At best, therefore, antibiotic resistance provides only weak circumstantial evidence for the kind of genetic mutation that is necessary to sustain Darwinian processes.
But, in any case, there is a far more serious objection to acquired antibiotic resistance than this. Darwinists do not have even this slim comfort, because there are a number of things scientifically wrong with Dr Max’s account — in fact, three things wrong with it.
First, there are objections to the idea of novelty, second, objections to the idea of Darwinian mutation being involved at all and, third, objections to the idea that the process can be demonstrated experimentally in the laboratory with any certainty.
The first objection is that antibiotic resistance is not new. Antibiotics such as penicillin, from the Penicillium spore, and similar organisms, have existed for millions of years in natural form. It is only their discovery by mankind in the twentieth century and their medical use to combat organisms harmful to humans that is new. So there is no question of disease organisms suddenly evolving natural resistance to antibiotics — there must be microorganisms that have been resistant to Penicillium for millions of years. This in turn means that antibiotic-resistant genes of various kinds must already be present in some, perhaps many strains of microorganism.
The second objection is that, although many common disease microorganisms, such as the tuberculosis bacterium, may be killed off by antibiotics, there are often a few individual organisms that are genetically resistant to the antibiotic — just as in any community of humans there will be a minority who possess natural resistance to tuberculosis and other disease organisms.
When such a colony of tuberculosis bacteria is exposed to an antibiotic, it will kill off all the bacteria except those who possess natural resistance, and it is these few who will remain and recolonise.
Despite Dr Max’s denials, the case of antibiotic resistance in microorganisms is exactly the same in principle as that of so called ‘industrial melanism’ in the peppered moth. It is simply a case of one variety of the species flourishing while another variety dies off, because of changed environmental conditions.
If Darwinists wish to claim that this is natural selection in action, they are free to do so. But they cannot claim this as a credible mechanism for evolution.
The third objection takes a little more explanation. Some scientists, such as Dr Max above, insist that laboratory experiments have been conducted which prove scientifically that antibiotic resistance was not genetically present in the microorganism used to culture the experimental colony, thus proving conclusively that it must have arisen by spontaneous genetic mutation, de novo — as an entirely new genetic feature.
This claim is scientifically flawed for two reasons.
As pointed out earlier, resistance to antibiotics is nothing new. It is perfectly possible that genes for such characteristics are present in all or many microorganisms but are merely ‘switched off’ or unexpressed. The genes can be ‘switched on’ by environmental pressure such as an antibiotic environment.
Dr Max also makes the claim, frequently repeated by Darwinists on the Internet, that (the emphasis is added by me);
from a single bacterium one can grow a population in the presence of an antibiotic, and demonstrate that organisms surviving this culture have mutations in genes that confer antibiotic resistance. In this case (in contrast to the situation with the peppered moth populations described above) origin of the population from a single bacterium allows comparisons of the mutated genes with the corresponding genes from the original bacterium, verifying that the variant sequences were not present before the culture with antibiotics and therefore arose as de novo beneficial mutations.
This claim can never be strictly true. In order to do what Dr Max describes here, the experimenter would necessarily have to both culture the new population from his single experimental bacterium AND fully sequence the DNA in that same single bacterium for later comparison. But, of course, analysing the DNA of the experimental bacterium must necessarily destroy it, making it impossible to culture from.
Instead the experimenters do the next best thing: they select a number of individuals from the same culture, which they assume to be genetically identical and they analyse the genes of one (or more) and use the others to culture the new colony. If the bacterium they select to analyse appears not to have any genes for antibiotic resistance then they assume that the same must be true for its close relative they are using to breed.
Now if the experiments always worked as Dr Max claims, if the new culture always exhibited antibiotic resistance, then one might be inclined to give some credence to their interpretation of the results. But that is not what happens. Sometimes the new culture develops antibiotic resistance; sometimes it doesn’t.
What happens to the experiments which do not develop antibiotic resistance? The experimenters put the failed experiments into the waste bin, while reporting the experiments that do work. So how do they know the true cause of experimental success and experimental failure? For it is possible that their experiments are succeeding when they choose a progenitor that already has antibiotic resistance and failing when they choose one that does not possess those genes — regardless of what their genetic analysis of the sacrificial bacterium shows.
Perhaps Dr Max and other convinced Darwinists might say that choosing one bacterium for genetic analysis and a very close relative for culturing is as close as one can get to experimental certainty, and is almost scientific proof. But the whole point of science is that ‘almost’ isn’t good enough. Either the lab proves what Dr Max claims, or it doesn’t prove it, in which case he cannot make the claim. There is already enough sloppy thinking and bad science in Darwinism without deliberately introducing more.
And as we have already seen, there are other possible explanations for their pattern of success and failure. Most importantly, antibiotic resistance is not a modern phenomenon, it may have been around for millions of years. So it is perfectly feasible that many bacteria possess genes that can provide resistance — whether or not those genes are currently expressed, and whether or not they have even been identified by geneticists as genes for providing antibiotic protection.
Such unexpressed genes are known to be sometimes ‘switched on’ by environmental pressures of just the life-threatening kind that are applied to bacteria in the lab. So, even if antibiotic resistance were genuinely arising during the experiment, it is not necessarily arising de novo, as Dr Max claims, but may merely be a genetic throwback.
It isn’t only Dr Max who perpetuates the scientific urban myth of the ‘evolution’ of antibiotic resistance. Other talk.origins “FAQs” make similar false claims.
For example, In the “FAQ” entitled ‘Are Mutations Harmful?’ Richard Harter says;
In modern times antibiotics, drugs that target specific features of bacteria, have become very popular. Bacteria evolve very quickly so it is not surprising that they have evolved resistance to antibiotics.
And in the “FAQ” entitled ‘Publish or Perish’ by John Catalano, he baldly asserts that ‘Drug resistance is biochemical evolution’ and cites an article in Scientific American entitled ‘The Challenge of Antibiotic Resistance.’
All of these “FAQs” are scientifically flawed and Messrs Max, Harter and Catalano should be asked to provide detailed concrete evidence in place of mere assertions.
If they fail to provide such detailed concrete evidence, then their “FAQs” should be amended to remove any reference to the ‘evolution’ of antibiotic resistance in microorganisms, or of the acquisition of such resistance providing supporting evidence of Darwinian evolution.
Update – 1st September 2006
A number of visitors to this site have pointed out to me a second important conclusion that can be drawn from the scientific facts reported above. The failure of Darwinists to demonstrate the evolution of acquired resistance to antibiotics actually casts considerable doubt over the entire theory. The reason is as follows.
Microorganisms multiply very rapidly. Under the right conditions of temperature and nutrients, a single bacterium can reproduce in minutes, giving rise to more than 4 million offspring in 8 hours. This rate of reproduction is more than fast enough to demonstrate the Darwinian process of mutation and natural selection happening in real time. In thousands of laboratories all over the world, literally billions and billions of reproductions take place under controlled conditions. The DNA of these microorganisms can be analysed as a matter of routine. Yet no microbiologist has so far announced observing the appearance of a new species of bacteria through the Darwinian process of the natural selection of genetic mutations (other than the bogus claims described above.)
If the natural selection of genetic mutations really were the primary driver of evolution, then there should be hundreds, or even thousands of new species appearing on an almost daily basis. Schoolkids should be able to breed new species on their classroom window sill. Yet far from such profligate innovation, what is actually found in the laboratory is stability and resistance to change – what Ernst Mayer called genetic homeostasis.
What is true for rapidly breeding microrganisms is likely also to be true of much slower breeding multi-celled creatures; that far from being the driver of evolution, the natural selection of genetic mutations has a neglible effect on inheritance.
For eight years, from 1875 to 1883, a German biologist named Albrecht von Herzeele conducted several hundred experiments in his Berlin laboratory which so outraged the scientific community that his books were removed from libraries and his writings banned.
The subject that so outraged his colleagues is today a taboo question that can scarcely be mentioned in polite scientific circles. It is the apparently innocent question: where do the minerals in plants come from? Von Herzeele grew plants without soil, using solutions whose mineral content he measured and controlled. Like scientists before him in England, France and Germany he found that there were elements in the ashes of the plants he grew that could not have got in from the growth medium. He concluded that ‘plants are capable of effecting the transmutation of elements.’
Extensive investigation of the brain has turned up the surprising fact that memory is not located in any one area or in a specific substrate.
It is located “everywhere” inside the brain in that sense that it the whole brain reacts on memory triggers. Like a holographic hard disk our brain may store data in every cell of the brain by decoding the data as a kind of wave pattern.
On the other side memory is located “nowhere” or better say nonlocal. Our perception of spacetime is the problem. We are so used to space that we forgot that time is a “dimension” too. Time is nonlocal and memory could be stored on this level as scalar information. Scalar means without dimensions in space. This would enable to persist memory for eternity, not subjected to decay. So memory is broadcasted and received by our brain rather than stored in a “warehouse of memories“.
How can science be described as alternative? Surely science is science. Anything else is just pseudo-science isn’t it? Let me start this new column with one recent example of alternative science and just how it is ‘alternative’.
Over the past decade, pressure has mounted in Holland for the Dutch National Health Service to offer complementary or holistic medical therapies, and a vocal lobby has campaigned for the introduction of homeopathic remedies on the country’s NHS. Dutch skeptics were equally vocal in opposing the spending of public money on treatment they regard as quackery.
To settle the question, the Dutch government commissioned a study of clinical trials of homeopathy by medical scientists at the department of epidemiology and health care at Limburg University, led by Paul Knipschild, professor of epidemiology. Their task was to analyse studies that had been done on homeopathy and say whether the investment of public money was justified by the evidence.
The team analysed 105 published studies. They found that 81 trials revealed positive results while 24 showed no positive effects, and concluded that ‘there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homeopathy, but only by means of well-performed trials.’ (British Medical Journal 1991, 302:316-323).
The story so far is encouraging to those who believe that complementary or alternative medicine may have something to offer. But it was what happened next that is the real eye-opener. The team leader, professor Knipschild, carried out a study of how new evidence on alternative medicine affected the beliefs of the medical profession.
First he carried out a study of the effectiveness of a ‘fringe’ method of diagnosis that is widely held to be pure quackery by conventional medical science; the technique known as Iridology, where the state of a patient’s health is diagnosed from inspecting the iris of the eye. Knipschild’s study found positive evidence for the effectiveness of the technique, as with homeopathy.
This time, however, instead of simply publishing his findings, he first surveyed a cross section of his Dutch medical colleagues with a questionnaire. Did they believe Iridology was effective?
Not surprisingly, he found that a few were believers, many were undecided and said they wanted further evidence, while a substantial number said that the whole idea was plainly absurd and merely a means by which charlatans extract money from gullible victims.
Knipschild then circulated his findings on Iridology to his colleagues pointing out the positive results he had obtained. Once they had digested this new information he surveyed them again on their attitudes: did they believe in Iridology? It was the findings of this second survey that are so interesting.
For he found that the true believers welcomed the findings uncritically; the undecided were interested to see positive results and suggested more work be done, but those who previously said the whole thing was nonsense continued to insist that it was nonsense despite the findings of his study. The discovery of new empirical evidence had no effect at all on their beliefs because it conflicted with those beliefs.
(Soc. Sci. Med. 1990 31:625-6).
Remember, we are talking here about some of Holland’s most intelligent and experienced medical scientists, responsible for the health of thousands of their fellow citizens and for the annual expenditure of millions of pounds of public money. These men and women are not fools or charlatans. But their medical opinions are partly founded not in evidence and experiment but in something else: something in which they have even more faith than the research findings of Holland’s primary centre for epidemiology.
It seems to me that this ‘something else’ is a generalised, unconsciously felt, almost mystical belief in scientific rationalism. This belief makes some scientists (and quite a few non-scientists) believe that they are able to predict what is true and what is untrue about the natural world, without the need to perform any experiments or analysis, merely by reference to a ‘common sense’ rationalist model they share. One might say (after Sir Karl Popper) it is a ‘closed’ form of science.
So subjects such as homeopathy, cold fusion and ley lines (to pick three at random) are often dismissed out of hand as unscientific nonsense, not because they have been studied but because they threaten to violate the accepted canons of scientific rationalism.
But if the evidence shows that many scientists are unwilling to be persuaded by experimental evidence, then how are new discoveries ever accepted by science? One answer is that of Nobel prize winner and physicist Max Planck, who said, ‘A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.’
The ‘alternative’ of my title refers not to some new kind of science, hitherto undiscovered: it refers to a scientific attitude that is the opposite of closed: an approach that is willing to confront anomalous and disturbing data, even when that evidence is deeply traumatic to our settled world view.
Alternative science, open science, is the science of Newton, Einstein and Dirac — it just hasn’t had time to become respectable yet.
Paul Kammerer (17 August 1880, in Vienna – 23 September 1926, in Puchberg am Schneeberg) was an Austrian biologist who studied and advocated the Lamarckian theory of inheritance – the notion that organisms may pass to their offspring characteristics they have acquired in their lifetime. He began his academic career at the Vienna Academy studying music but graduated with a degree in biology.
Kammerer’s work in biology largely involved altering the breeding and development of amphibians. He coerced ovoviviparous fire salamanders to become viviparous, and viviparous alpine salamanders to become ovoviviparous. In lesser-known experiments, he manipulated and bred olms. He made olms produce live young, and he bred dark-colored olms with full vision. He supported the Lamarckian theory of the heritability of acquired characteristics, and experimented extensively in an effort to prove this theory.
Kammerer succeeded in making midwife toads breed in the water by increasing the temperature of their tanks, forcing them to retreat to the water to cool off. The male midwife toads were not genetically programmed for the underwater mating that necessarily followed and thus, over the span of two generations, Kammerer reported that his midwife toads were exhibiting black nuptial pads on their feet to give them more traction in this underwater mating process. While the prehistoric ancestors of midwife toads had these pads, Kammerer considered this an acquired characteristic brought about by adaptation to environment. Claims arose that the result of the experiment had been falsified. The most notable of these claims was made by Dr. G. K. Noble, Curator of Reptiles at the American Museum of Natural History, in the scientific journal Nature. Noble, after a microscopic examination, claimed that the black pads actually had a far more mundane explanation: they had simply been injected with Indian ink.