Objection: CDs also store information!

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Does storing music on a CD really have anything to do with homeopathy?

Proponents of homeopathy often point out that chemical analysis cannot determine whether a CD is recorded or not, or what is stored on it.

This comparison is intended to refute an essential reservation of critics of homeopathy. Although homeopaths do not deny that the solution does not contain any active ingredient even at a comparatively low potentiation when diluted and shaken, the comparison with the CD allegedly shows that this chemical examination is obviously not sufficient to understand the whole process.

It is undoubtedly true that a chemical analysis cannot distinguish a recorded CD from an unrecorded one. The reason for this is that an essential part is missing from the analysis, namely the structure of the surface which is applied when the CD is burned and in which the contained information is stored. Just as the burning of the information on the CD is obviously independent of its chemical composition, this should also be possible in the solvent if the active ingredient has disappeared from it due to dilution.

This analogy is based on the assumption that water has similar properties to the CD and can also store information in its structure in some way. However, the analogy is no proof that this is really the case. In fact, the opposite is the case: while a CD as a solid can easily store an imprinted structure over a very long period of time even with a certain resistance to destruction, this property of a liquid is completely absent. Try to write something with any pen on the surface of liquid water. What is easily achieved with a CD with a suitable pen proves to be impossible with a liquid. The structures (water clusters) that water actually forms are of such an extremely short lifespan that it is impossible to store information even for the tiniest fractions of a second.

Quintessence: The statement that a chemical analysis cannot tell whether data is stored on a CD is correct, but the implicit assertion that the conditions in the water are similar is wrong. The CD is a completely unsuitable model to illustrate the processes of potentiation and therefore does not function as a “proof” for homeopathy.


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Picture credits: Andreas Weimann for INH