The facts about an ingenious homeopathic experiment that was not completed due to the “tricks” of Mr. James Randi.
In 2002 the BBC Horizon program presented a documentary that showed that the Benveniste experiment about homeopathy was a fake one and therefore... homeopathy was also fake! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2512105.stm
Mr.Vithoulkas had repeatedly stressed in many communications that the experiment was in any case a falsely conceived one from its very beginning (see the correspondence). The opponents of homeopathy basing in this false experiment by Benveniste their hypocritical arguments maintained that homeopathy was simply placebo effect.
Mr Randi after this false experiment (ignoring all other experiments that showed the effect of homeopathy) declared in his website (http://www.randi.org/) that whoever could prove the validity of the action of a homeopathically potentized remedy beyond the Avogadro number would be winning one million $ as a prize.
Mr Vithoulkas challenged this statement and with this idea a new experiment was conceived that would prove that the highly potentized remedies could actually have a biological effect upon the human organism.
The experiment was simple: An individualized remedy would be given to a number of patients in a double blind fashion and half of the patients would receive placebo the other half would get the real remedy. The Greek Homeopathic physicians that would participate in taking of the cases and prescribing the remedies should point out in the end of the experiment the ones that they had got the real remedy.
The protocol was structured by a group of internationally known scientists and the experiment had to take place in one of the hospitals in Athens.
What follows is the real story (with facts in correspondence that transpired) of how through several "tricks", Mr.Randi refused to go through the experiment and rescued his million.
We sent the following statement to Mr. Randi in order to be posted to his website but he refused to post it.
This is a retraction statement against the erroneous piece of information published on JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation) website http://www.randi.org/ , concerning the supposedly "withdrawal of Homeopaths" from a experiment (agreed upon between JREF and the Greek homeopathic team of medical doctors) that was devised in order to prove that there is a biological effect on human organism from the ultra high dilutions of homeopathic remedies, beyond the Avogadro number.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE EVENTS
- The group of homeopaths led by Prof. George Vithoulkas contracted an agreement with JREF on 2003, with the objective of matching a ``challenge'' posed by JREF, in order to carry out a scientific experiment that proves that the human organism responds to homeopathic ultra dilutions, and claim the 1 million USD challenge prize offered by JREF.
- On 2003, a team of ``skeptics'' was set up, to represent the JREF side in the scientific experiment that would follow. The group of skeptics and the group of homeopaths led by Prof. George Vithoulkas have been conducting preparatory work continuously since then.
- A protocol was drawn up with the title: “Do homeopathic remedies have a recognizable biological effect on the human organism?”
- The venue for the experiment was to be a Greek hospital. Eventually, after several contacts with several hospitals, the municipality hospital "ELPIS" in Athens, Greece had agreed to host the experiment. The pharmacist that would provide the homeopathic remedies for the experiment -Mr. Korres Pharmacy-, was also found and the agreement was finalized on 12.10.2005. At that time Ms. Althea Katz, representative of Mr. Alec Gindis (he was one of the representatives of Mr. Randi) visited the Greek municipality hospital in Athens and discussed all the details about the experiment exhaustively.
- In 26.10.2005, Mr. Alec Gindis informed Prof. Vithoulkas by e-mail that the finances for the experiment were not yet raised and therefore the experiment could not start in spite of the fact that everything else was ready.
- In 17.8.2006, we received a signed agreement from Mr. Randi in which he stated that he was satisfied with the suggested protocol and he waived the claim of a preliminary test.
- As we waited for the finances to be raised, in order to start with the experiment, in 2.2.2006, we were informed that Mr. Randi had a health problem. When Mr. Gindis asked him to assign a representative in order to deal with all the procedures for the starting of the experiment, Mr. Randi refused to do so. As a result of his refusal the experiment was delayed so much until a new Mayor was elected in Athens who replaced the authorities of the ELPIS hospital, something that we had anticipated and repeatedly stressed to the “sceptics” long ago. The new Mayor Dr. Kaklamanis, a conventional medical doctor was indifferent if not hostile to the project. We had repeatedly warned the “sceptics” that if the experiment did not start the latest in the beginning of 2006, the new Mayor will change the key persons in the hospital -the president of the hospital and also the chairman of the scientific committee- and the new people most probably would not respect the decision of the previous scientific committee.
At this crucial time in the beginning of 2006 that the experiment had to start, Mr. Randi declared that he was sick and that his rehabilitation was ...going to last from the beginning of February till July! But this was the crucial period that the experiment should have started in order not to be affected by the new authorities of the hospital.
It is characteristic of the urgency from the exchange of e-mails and more especially the e-mail Mr. Gindis wrote to Mr. Randi: “I want to underline, though, that your participation is critical… As you can imagine, the homeopaths are very concerned about your health. In their eyes you “failed” them by getting sick right when they just about put it all together”.
In 7.4.2006 Mr. Gindis wrote to Mr. Randi in order to signal to him that the homeopathic team was ready to start: “All in all, I am impressed that he (Prof. Vithoulkas) managed to put together such a team, find a sponsoring hospital and find a way to recruit patients with advertising efforts and costs carried by the hospital and participating homeopaths”. But instead Randi suspended all activities of the experiment attributing it to his supposedly state of health!
Mr. Randi knew very well that this period was crucial for us to start the experiment and we had made this urgency explicit by sending several e-mails urging them that it was necessary to go ahead immediately. But Mr. Randi needed ...six months "to recover" denying to assign a collaborator. As expected, in Autumn of 2006 a new Mayor Dr. Kaklamanis M.D. was elected in Athens.
For us, all this extended period of recovery was obviously an excuse for not starting the experiment.
After the election of the new Mayor, a new chairman for the scientific committee and a new president of the hospital were installed.
Immediately we started pressing them to respect the decision of the previous scientific committee or to decide -in a new meeting- in favour of the experiment.
The interesting thing was that on 16.5.2008, Mr. Randi -thinking most probably that we could never succeed in getting a second permission- suddenly became very gallant and wrote: “In any case, it may not be necessary for me to actually be present in person for these tests. I am prepared to assign security and protocol duties to Alec Gindis and to Mr. Gabor, so they can act in my behalf”. But in the mean time and as early as March 2008 was already putting up in his website a text claiming that the "Greek homeopaths have withdrawn from the experiment ...as expected"!!
The important question is: why Mr. Randi delayed the starting of the experiment by the moment everything was in place in 2006, claiming that he...would be recovering for six months and that nobody else could replace him, while the next time, when he thought that we could never succeed in obtaining a second permission from the ELPIS hospital, he became so gallant as to assign a collaborator?!!
He was so sure that we will not succeed in getting a second permission from the hospital that in 16.5.2008 Mr. Randi sent us a... notarized statement saying:
“I intend to go through with the proposed test of the claims of homeopathy, as previously discussed in exchanges between George Vithoulkas and myself. This stance has not changed, and it will not change”. !!! See his new statement later on (17.10.2008) when he knew already that we had the permission!!
- In the end of July of 2008, after a lot of efforts, we obtained for a second time the permission to conduct the proposed homeopathic experiment at the ELPIS hospital.
- On 2nd and 3rd September of 2008, there was a final meeting in the International Academy of Classical homeopathy in Alonissos to discuss last details of the experiment. In the meeting were present the representative of Randi, Mr. Hrasko Gabor, Ms Althea Katz (representative of Mr. Alec Gindis), Dr. Menachem Oberbaum, principal investigator of the experiment and Prof. George Vithoulkas. They discussed for two days all the details about the experiment and the discussion was taped officially and also some of it videoed by a professional camera man from Israel.
- A FEW DAYS LATER (during September 2008) WE RECEIVED INFORMATION FROM USA THAT IN RANDI’S WEBSITE WAS APPEARING (since March 2008) A TEXT (under a title ANOTHER WITHDRAWAL) SAYING IN EFFECT THAT THE GREEK HOMEOPATHS HAVE WITHDRAWN FROM THE EXPERIMENT!!
In the document was stated that a major test of homeopathy in Greece has met the expected fate, being abandoned by the homeopathy community!!!!
This information infuriated the group of homeopaths led by Prof. George Vithoulkas and a lot of damage was caused to him as was accused for been associated with such unreliable people.
But the most outrageous event happened on 17.10.2008, when we actually received an "ultimatum" from Mr. Randi by which he was changing all the previous agreements refusing to go ahead with the experiment as planned.
Here is what he wrote:
“…Forget all previous correspondence exchanged on the subject. …What appears here is the current status. …First, we require that George Vithoulkas submit a regular, properly-filled-out application and submit it –just as we require everyone to do. After that has been received, we’ll go ahead– as with any regular applicant- with the arrangements, including the requirement for the preliminary stage”.
Here you can see his whole statement with some remarks from us in red:
To All Concerned:
The brouhaha that began as a comprehensive homeopathy test In Greece, has been consuming far too much of my time and attention, and of my colleagues, as well. Forget all previous correspondence exchanged on the subject. What appears HERE is the current status. Mr. Randi asked from us to forget all previous correspondence after we discovered the false, slanderous and deceptive posting at his website JREF with the title: “Another Withdrawal”.
We’re starting anew. Bear in mind that WE are offering the million-dollar prize, and WE will control the parameters, in line with the rules of the challenge – which are available to everyone. There will be no more exceptions, which I had – unwisely – granted to certain persons in order to be more accommodating; they have always chosen to be difficult, capricious, and arrogant as a result of this courtesy. No more.
First, we require that George Vithoulkas submit a regular, properly-filled-out application, and submit it – just as we require EVERYONE to do. After that has been received, we’ll go ahead – as with any regular applicant – with the arrangements, including the requirement for the preliminary stage. Mr. Randi changed the terms of agreement when he saw that everything was ready for starting the experiment. While his representatives were discussing with Prof. George Vithoulkas in Alonissos (September 2008), he was publicizing to his website that the Greek homeopaths had withdrawn!!! Since I’m not personally handling the challenge applications, I’m not aware of how many places George Vithoulkas has tried for a venue, but I know that his own country turned him down, as well as some others. Second, we’ll require that Mr. Vithoulkas obtain a venue and all the necessary facilities for conducting a double-blind, correct, acceptable protocol, before we will go ahead – following the receipt of the application.
Mr. Randi pretends that he ignores the fact that we had already the permission and the facilities for a second time though we had informed the “skeptics”.
The protocol used by the Royal Society/BBC tests in the UK – based on Jacques Benveniste’s design, and carefully supervised by the homeopathic community there – would be acceptable for this set of tests.
Mr. Randi wants to change even the terms of protocol that took years to be contracted!!
Don’t contact me personally on this matter. I’ll not entertain any arguments or pleas. It will be handled by Alison Smith, working with others on our staff.
Actually Mr. Randi is dismissing his previous collaborators, Mr. Alec Gindis and Mr. Hrasko Gabor!!!
These 300 words constitute my entire commentary on the matter.
It was clear now for a second time that when everything was in place in order to start the experiment, Mr. Randi didn’t wish to go ahead and found ridiculous excuses for withdrawing.
Consequently, as a least compensation, for the moral damage caused to Greek homeopaths and to the homeopathic community in general, we demand:
1. The apologies from Mr. Randi personally posted at his website.
2. The retraction of the text “Another Withdrawal” from all sites.
3. This document to be posted in the same place in the website of JREF where the "withdrawal statement" was posted.
4. A legal, notarized statement retracting the last statement of 17.10.2008 that has cancelled all Mr. Randi’s previous commitments.
If Mr. Randi fulfils all these conditions we will continue as planned. If these conditions are not fulfilled within a month, we will consider that Mr. Randi has withdrawn from the experiment. In any case, we will go ahead and complete the experiment without Mr. Randi, only with the help of sceptics Mr. Alec Gindis and Mr Hrasko Gabor who really care in seen this experiment finally completed.