Read before the Bureau of Homoeopathic Philosophy, I.H.A., July 1, 1953.
DAYTON T. PULFORD, M.D.
It is said to be bad taste and worse psychology to begin a paper with apologies. Bad as it is, I would rather warn you beforehand and have you escape reality by a peaceful sleep than to have you suffer it out.
There is no one who would be more gratified than I to have Homoeopathy placed upon a scientific basis acceptable to all, better understood and therefore better applied; but, if we do not go about it step by step and be sure of each step, we had better leave the whole thing alone or we will become the laughing-stock of the whole scientific world and will be right back where we started from.
It has been said that all of the work has already been done for us by scientists in other fields, but the large body of medicine we are most interested in will make us go from bottom to top and prove every claim and, if we cannot do so, will make us eat our words. We must not go off on a scientific bender and stagger down an open man-hole of wishful thinking. I am not trying to throw cold water on this project but am only trying to stand in an open man-hole as a beacon to prevent our going off the deep end.
Because of this, we must take careful stock and ask ourselves many questions before we start out on our primrose path. A few of them I now wish to propound:.
Do we really know how the Law of Similars operates? As Homoeopathy deals with action and reaction it would seem most plausible that it operates according to that law of Newton which states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If it does, then we need go no farther with the law but only with what becomes of our remedies when homoeopathically prepared and their modus operandi in the body.
Is our problem electro-magnetic, thermodynamic, or catalytic? And, as a follower-up, is it mathematical?.
By what instrumental means are we going to demonstrate our wares? By the spectroscope? By the oscilloscope? By a thermo- couple? Science has not yet made an instrument as sensitive as the human body for the detection of drug action.
Will we use the same devices to prove the effectiveness of potentization? Can we prove that we split an atom of Silica by trituration just as one splits an atom of uranium in a cyclotron? Quite a difference in cost if both are true. It has been said that the change in the remedy by potentization takes place thermodynamically. If so, it will have to be proved in the laboratory. Will the thermodynamic angle show it to be some other force than atomic?.
What about catalysis? Catalytic reaction has never been satisfactorily explained as far as I know. Like electricity, it has been accepted and nothing has been discreetly said about it. It recalls an old dialogue between a professor and an enquiring student, as related by an old professor of mine. Student: “What is mind?” Professor: “Never matter!” Student: “What is matter?” Professor: “Never mind!”.
Another requirement we must meet to have our “theory” raised to the dignity of a law is a mathematical one. Its especial branch is statistics. This requires us to have almost infinite observations so that we may arrive at a probability. We have lost almost two hundred years in collecting these statistics and, starting from scratch, how long is it going to take us to pile up a sufficient number of them?.
Are we to have to go through all of this work to arrive at a probability? We know that already. If we give a remedy we know that it probably will cure and that probably it will not and nobody is more acutely aware of this probability from the therapeutic standpoint than is our Old School brother. It hits him harder than us because of no broad therapeutic guide.
Einstein claims, although he has not put us privy to it, if he is privy to it himself, that he has a mathematical formula which rules out probability and will predict individual events. That will be everybody’s paradise. All we can do so far is to attempt to reduce the probability of error to the smallest possible percentage. It is so cheering to know that you have a 50-50 chance of recovery and not to know which 50% you are in.
Again, mathematics is only a follower-up and a tool of knowledge. First, you must have something; second, know something about it; and, third, know how it acts before you can measure it and its rate of action. All of this before you step into numbers.
Furthermore, mathematics, and especially statistics, can be made to prove the true false and the false true. This is very much the case with statistics wherewith anyone with an axe to grind can vociferate mightily with an imposing array of figures at his command. This greatly helps the advertisers, the politicians and the do-gooders. It would be better, if there are any scientists who live up to the definition of science, for them to keep their statistics under their hats and not give material to those with ulterior motives.
If we can collect enough statistics to prove the Law of Similars to ourselves, the other side can dig up enough more to prove us wrong. It is not a scientific problem of things, but a psychological problem which confronts us.
It is a fact, and a boast of homoeopaths, that homoeopathy is firmly based on individuality and individuality means differences. How are we to put entirely different things into classes for our statistical purposes? If, after all these researches, we find the mental symptoms still the most important in selecting the remedy, how are we going to put them into mathematical molds?.
In spite of medicine’s claiming to be scientific, its most practical end, therapeutics, is still very much an art depending chiefly on the judgement of the clinician and this judgement is an unmeasurable and intangible quality.
As to the Principle of Correspondence, what I have to say is brief because I know very little about it. Superficially, the term is attractive because it seems to smack of Similars. It does to a limited degree. It merely states that for substances with high quantum numbers there is a limited range wherein the classical and quantum states correspond in their actions in a ratio of 1:1. These substances are limited in number. How, then, can we apply this principle to all our remedies?.
It seems to me that, if we are to get anywhere in this matter, we must first show what actually takes place in the body in the diseased state, what takes place in the remedy in its potentized state and how these two react when brought together. This should convince us and them one way or the other. But, God, it is an awful task. It will take a long time and if our numbers keep dwindling there will be no one interested enough to carry on and it will have to be discovered later by accident.
As hinted above, our problem would still not be solved when all of this is done because the heart of it would still remain and that heart is psychological. Those whom we wish to convince are suffering from a mental block and a highly inflated pride. It is easier to split the atom than to blast out this mental blockade. After two hundred years of hating Homoeopathy and the name Homoeopathy, are they going to admit they have been wrong all this time and accept Homoeopathy as Homoeopathy? Not by a damn site! They will meet statistics with statistics, criticise our observations as inaccurate and faulty and make things as generally disagreeable as they can. There is no such thing as science when it comes to survival and human relations. What we need is a master psychologist who can open their minds and at least lead them to a truly impartial attitude.
It is said that a fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer. I am the fool; and if I were a wise man or a genius I would answer them.
320 ONTARIO ST.,
DR. ELIZABETH WRIGHT HUBBARD (New York, N.Y.): I should like to say that Dr. Pulford has introduced a new similimum in our armamentarium, Tonicum pulfordiorum. I found it underneath the fun and wit. We have listened, and if we have listened carefully, we heard the big voice give us a lot of real meat in the last part of the paper, with the entertainment. I am glad to have heard this paper. It gives us an added insight into the author, a man known to be a homoeopath, and he knows how hard it is to plow that furrow.
Thank you for the fun you gave us.
DR. DAYTON T. PULFORD (closing): I want to thank the discussant for these kind words. I am sorry I had to take a little issue with Dr. Einstein on the mathematical side of it. What I wanted to bring out more than anything else is: just watch your step. That is the main part of the message. We don’t want to go off on the deep end, as I said before.