Wine Is Good For Linux

Wine for Linux seems to be maturing into a fine piece of software. I’m running Wine 1.7 on Fedora Linux 19 LXDE Spin (64-Bit, Linux Kernel version 3.10.10-200) on my Toshiba Laptop, and am comfortably using the following free and excellent Windows applications under Wine.

All of them have worked flawlessly for me, so far. Good job, Wine developers !

Kchibo KK-8108T Portable AM / FM Radio Receiver:

Cheap, and sounds like it.

I purchased the Kchibo KK-8108T AM / FM Portable Radio from eBay for about Rs. 660 (less than 12 USD). Here’s a quick review.

Technical Specifications
Model: KK-8108T
Unit Size: 165 (W) x 78 (H) x 35 (D) mm
Uses 2 Standard AA batteries.
LED Tuning Indicator
Telescopic Antenna (~ Max. Length: 650 mm)
Socket For Adaptor (3V DC)
Standard 3.5 mm Earphones Socket
Power Source: DC 3V (150mA) (2 x 1.5V AA Cells / External Adaptor)
Single Loudspeaker
Standard 3.5 mm Earphones Jack
Weight: 420 gm (Approx.)
Analog Tuner
Frequency Bands:
TV1: 56 – 108 MHz
TV2: 174 – 223 MHz
MW: 526 – 1605 KHz
SW1: 5.5 – 6.4 MHz
SW2: 6.8 – 7.8 MHz
SW3: 9.0-10.0 MHz
SW4:11.6-12.05 MHz
SW5:13.5-13.9 MHz
SW6:15.1-15.6 MHz
SW7:17.5-17.9 MHz


  • Cheap
  • Runs On Standard AA Cells
  • Has Socket For DC Adaptor (3V)
  • Wide Range Of Frequencies
  • Has Tuning Indicator LED
  • Reasonably Loud For A Radio Its Size


  • No 3V DC Power Adaptor Supplied
  • No Earphones Supplied
  • Poor Build Quality
  • Poor Sensitivity / Poor Reception
  • Terribly Inaccurate Tuning Frequency Indicator

Overall Recommendation: Avoid buying the Kchibo KK-8108T AM / FM Radio unless you need something cheap to rip apart and use in your own Electronics project !

So why did I buy this ? Had way too much time on my hands, and wanted to check the Shortwave reception capabilities of cheap handheld radios.

Kchibo 8108T AM / FM Radio Receiver

Kchibo 8108T AM / FM Radio

Any guesses which FM Frequency Band this radio was tuned to when I took this picture ? 107 MHz ? 106.something MHz ? Wrong. 104.8 MHz !

Kchibo 8108T

Kchibo 8108T AM / FM Radio Receiver Tuned To 104.8 FM !

The Tuning Frequency Indicator is just completely useless. The tuning needle was around the 107 MHz (FM) mark when the radio was actually tuned to 104.8 MHz !

FM Reception was average at best. The AM reception however, is quite disappointing. Offering a wide range of frequencies doesn’t really count if the receiver is not sensitive enough to pick up the signals. The single speaker was loud enough to fill up a small room.

Build quality is quite bad. The battery compartment cover doesn’t fit securely enough. The antenna is a little loose, and is likely to shift under its own weight, unless it’s kept perfectly straight, and perfectly still. There is a single red LED that serves as an indicator of signal strength, and it mostly does what it’s supposed to do.

Conclusion: This is radio is not really up to the mark, even for a cheap receiver. AM (especially Shortwave) reception on this piece is terrible. FM reception is just about average, but a lot of mobile phones have much better (digital) FM radios built-in these days anyway. The poor build quality and inaccurate Tuning Frequency indicator make it really difficult to recommend this radio receiver, even at that low price.

I released the first official version of Infant today. Infant is a free, ready-to-use, easy-to-configure, extensible Information Retrieval (IR) system – and a powerful multi-threaded web-crawler, written entirely in Java. Visit http://www.infant-ir.info/ for more information about Infant 1.2012.


   “What do you mean by ‘prepone is not a word‘ ? Of course it’s a word, how can it not be a word ? I’ve used it all my life !”, said Dad. Only a few seconds earlier, he had used the word ‘prepone’ while talking to me, thereby prompting the purist in me to tell him that ‘prepone’ is not a valid word in the English language. I was, of course, referring to the fact the word ‘prepone’ is not listed (not yet, at least) in any British-English dictionary or thesaurus that I personally regard as authoritative – Cambridge, and Chambers, in particular.

   When I was much younger, Dad had himself advised me to adopt British English, and not American English, as Indians are expected to follow British English; India is a commonwealth nation after all. I preferred British English over American English myself (still do), simply because English, the language, originated in, well, England. That, in my mind, made British English original and pure, and American English an unnecessary perversion. Back then, we (Indians) we aware of just two major flavours of English – British, and American.

I will not use 'prepone' in class.

   Things have changed. We now have our very own perversion of the English Language, and it’s called ‘Indian English’. Seriously. And, according to the Oxford English dictionary, ‘prepone‘ is a perfectly valid word in ‘Indian English’. Cambridge and Chambers do not list ‘prepone’ as a legitimate word, as of October 28, 2012. So technically, I was right. ‘Prepone’ wasn’t a real word in British English. Most people in this part of the world, use ‘prepone’ as an antonym of postpone, blissfully unaware that it is not really a valid word in British English. And yet, I feel awkward each time I educate someone about the non-existence of ‘prepone’ in British English. Languages evolve. They do, they must. And I believe that British English should accept and recognize ‘prepone’ as a real word. After all, there might just be a rather strong case favouring the inclusion of ‘prepone’ in mainstream British English…

   The etymology of the word ‘postpone’ has its roots in Latin. The English word ‘postpone‘ originated around the year 1500 A.D., stemming from the Latin word ‘postponere‘, which itself was formed by combining ‘post’ (meaning ‘after’) and ‘ponere’ (meaning ‘posit’, or ‘put’). Well, well… In much the same vein, ‘preponere‘ too should’ve been added to Latin. But that did not happen, and we don’t know why. (Maybe they never preponed anything back then, and did not even think about coming up with a single word to represent the act of rescheduling something to an earlier time…) Yet, the fact that ‘preponere‘ is not a real word in Latin, doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t include ‘prepone’ in mainstream British English. ‘Prepone’ should’ve been added to the English language as a legitimate word, soon after the inclusion of ‘postpone’ ! Really, ‘pre’ is just as good a prefix, as ‘post’.

   Better late, than never. British English currently does not have a single, convenient word to represent the act of rescheduling something to an earlier date or time. I vote for the official inclusion of the word ‘prepone’ in mainstream British English. Its meaning is intuitive enough, it bears an etymological resemblance to ‘postpone’, and it is already being used widely in India.

prepone (verb) – to reschedule something to an earlier date or time
preponed (verb), preponing (verb), preponement (noun)
I am preponing my business trip to the first week of December, so I can be back in time to bring in the new year with my family.

Cambridge, Chambers… Are you listening ?

Thought Of The Day

This too, shall pass.

Researchers at the University of Michigan are working on a way to improve battery life in Smart Phones. They call it Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening or E-MiLi. Here’s a excerpt from an online Press Release about E-MiLi…

Even when smartphones are in power-saving modes and not actively sending or receiving messages, they are still on alert for incoming information and they’re searching for a clear communication channel. The researchers have found that this kind of energy-taxing “idle listening” is occurring during a large portion of the time phones spend in power-saving mode—as much as 80 percent on busy networks. Their new approach could make smartphones perform this idle listening more efficiently. It’s called E-MiLi, which stands for Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening.

Here’s how E-MiLi works: It slows down the WiFi card’s clock by up to 1/16 its normal frequency, but jolts it back to full speed when the phone notices information coming in. It’s well known that you can slow a device’s clock to save energy. The hard part, Shin said, was getting the phone to recognize an incoming message while it was in this slower mode.

“We came up with a clever idea,” Shin said. “Usually, messages come with a header, and we thought the phone could be enabled to detect this, as you can recognize that someone is calling your name even if you’re 90 percent asleep.”

In addition to new processor-slowing software on smartphones, E-MiLi requires new firmware for phones and computers that would be sending messages. They need the ability to encode the message header—the recipient’s address—in a new and detectable way. The researchers have created such firmware, but in order for E-MiLi use to become widespread, WiFi chipset manufacturers would have to adopt these firmware modifications and then companies that make smartphones and computers would have to incorporate the new chips into their products.

[ Read the full Press Release here. ]

Sounds cute, but I have serious doubts about this.

Extending battery life of a mobile handset using this approach alone, is not likely to provide a 50% improvement as claimed. This “50% improvement” seems more like a theoretical blanket statement, which can only be true if test devices are not used for anything except sending and receiving a modest number of messages. By definition, a smart phone does a lot more. I own a Samsung Wave S8500 running Bada OS, and every weekday, I use my phone for talking to friends / colleagues, exchanging text messages, listening to music (a lot), and browsing the web on WiFi / 3G (mostly WiFi). Do note that these are just the most commonly used functions of my phone, I’m not even talking about taking pictures with the phone’s camera or playing games. We need numbers to crunch here, some data to analyze. By tracking usage patterns of a few hundred randomly selected users of smart phones, we need to figure out roughly how much time an average user spends doing things other than passively waiting for a message to arrive !

Here’s an enumeration of factors that very, very, very significantly impact battery life. In no particular order…

  • Actual Time Spent Talking !! Do note that for all handsets – smart or not-so-smart – Talktime is measured in hours (6-8 hours on an average), whereas Standby time is measured in days (18-24 days, on an average) ! Since this research is all about conserving power in “idle” mode, I’m sure this “50% improvement” doesn’t consider a single minute of talktime. Boo. Obviously, power consumption in “idle” mode isn’t really as scary as these guys make it out to be ! 18 days is a lot. A 50% improvement there would get me a standby time of 27 days. But I’d still have to charge my phone everyday, since I actually use my phone… Battery life on smart phones is an issue, battery life on idle smart phones is not. This technology cannot make me use less power when I’m actually using my phone to talk.
  • Bluetooth Radio On / Off – Huge hit ! Keep it switched off when you don’t need it. Power saving applications that automatically switch off the Bluetooth radio when it’s not in use, are already available for Android, Blackberry and iOS.
  • WiFi Radio On / Off – Once again, a huge hit ! Switch off WiFi when you don’t need it ! Power saving applications that automatically switch off the WiFi radio when it’s not in use, are already available for Android, Blackberry and iOS. E-MiLi could potentially help you here, but these Software Apps will most certainly make your battery charge last much longer ! Besides, why go through all the trouble of modifying the firmware of the sender’s phone or computer, when a much better, sender-independent, easily installable software-based solution already exists ?
  • 3G Radio On / Off
  • GPS / Location Based Services
  • Display Size (Larger displays use more power.)
  • Display Brightness (Brighter displays use more power.)
  • E-Mail Polling / Fetch Intervals (More frequent poll / fetch operations use more power.)
  • CPU Load And Overall Time Spent Messaging, Playing Games, Using Applications etc. (This is when your screen size and brightness really start hitting your phone’s battery, in addition to the CPU’s own power consumption.)

Given these issues, E-MiLi cannot really extend my Cellular Phone’s battery life in day-to-day use.

Those were the technical reasons, here are practical ones why E-MiLi might not be a viable option for extending the battery life of mobile handsets…

  • For this technology to work, the sender’s handset would need a modified chip / firmware. Sender’s handset ??!! That’s just silly. Unless the entire world simultaneously switches over to this technology, nobody can start using it. I can buy such a power-friendly handset for myself, but how do I ensure that everyone I know has a similar device ? If I put my handset to this reduced-idle-frequency sleep mode, and somebody sends me a message from a regular handset or computer, I would simply not receive it. Users wouldn’t be too thrilled at the prospect of missing messages completely, even if that allows them to extend their battery life by 500%…
  • The miniscule real-world power saving that this technology offers might not be significant enough to entice device manufactures to incorporate this technology into all their handsets / WiFi chipsets. After all, a very significant percentage of mobile phone users do not use smart phones, and battery life often isn’t an issue for them. These guys have already applied for patents… Why would handset manufacturers invest in this technology and build it into all their handsets, when it’s only likely to improve battery life by about 6%, for less than 35% of all users ?

Lastly, one other thing that caught my attention, was this line…

“This idle listening often consumes as much power as actively sending and receiving messages all day.”

That’s simply not true. Those are the words of a marketing professional, not a scientist. Then again, if they can hire lawyers to file for patents, I’m sure they can hire marketing professionals as well !

In all honesty, I’d be very surprised if this technology ever gets commercialized.

I laughed my donkey off when I first read this !

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, … nor his ass, …

Exodus 20:17, The Bible (American Standard Version)

That’s an excerpt from The Ten Commandments of Christianity. Who would’ve thought a divine decree could be so insanely funny ?!

I don’t mean to offend anyone through this post; it’s written in good humour.

My keenly tuned bullshit detector beeps loudly each time I hear about someone offering specialized Search Engine Optimization services or Training. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has sprung up as an industry in its own right, over the last few years. Almost all small and medium sized organizations are beginning to realize the power of internet marketing, and are making efforts to ensure that their websites show up in the first 10 search results of internet search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing – for a given set of search strings. Companies have been setup with the sole purpose of providing SEO services. A large number of organizations are hiring the services of these so-called SEO experts, to help them achieve and maintain a high search ranking. Institutes are beginning to conduct courses on Search Engine Optimization, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Search Engine Optimization finds a place in academia as a university major! But are these SEO services really as important, as effective, and as specialized as they’re touted to be? Is it indeed possible, or even advisable in the long run, to take complete junk and tweak it to appear in the top ten search results of Google? I don’t think so.

The Economics Of Internet Search

In 2010, more than 96% of Google’s revenue came through advertising (more than 66% of the total revenue came through advertising on Google’s own websites). Companies flock to Google to advertise their products and services, because Google is the most popular search engine, and also the most popular website in the world. Now Google is the most popular search engine, because they truly are the best when it comes to internet search. If Google stops providing good search results, it will no longer be the most popular website in the world. Once that happens, organizations will not be too keen on advertising with Google, and will start looking at alternatives. Needless to say, this will significantly reduce Google’s revenue. It is therefore an economic necessity for Google to continue to provide the best search results in the world. It only stands to reason, that Google will do everything it can to make sure that end-users quickly and easily get to the content that really matters to them, and not to some useless web page packed with unnecessary and irrelevant keywords.

Current SEO Trends

Most people offering SEO services do some, or all of the following things to increase the search ranking of a given website.

  • Cram keywords into web pages, without paying attention to the actual products or services being offered by the target website.
  • Cram keywords in HTML META tags of all pages on the target website.
  • Put up links (pointing to the target website) on other websites (including web directories), particularly those that have a high PageRank.

These techniques are useful, but without a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms at work here, they don’t amount to much. Attempting to artificially boost up your search engine ranking is quite useless, because search engines continuously work towards eliminating such search-optimized web pages from the top search results, if they don’t really add value to the end-user’s search experience, and don’t provide the end-user with the information he’s looking for. It’s quite simple, really. End-users will not be too thrilled about using a search engine that shows them pages that are of no use to them.

What You Really Need To Know About Search Engine Optimization

What then, is the single most important thing to focus on, when it comes to Search Engine Optimization?

Content. High-quality content that actually provides value to the visitors of your website.

The best, and the most sustainable form of Search Engine Optimization, is to make a genuine attempt to provide value to the visitors of your website, and ensure that they are able to easily find useful, contextual, and relevant information on your web pages – about the search queries that lead them there.

Once you convince yourself about the importance of useful and relevant content, here are a few things that you can do to help search engines do their job more effectively.

  1. Make sure your content includes the search terms (keywords) that end-users typically use to search for the kind of information, products, or services, that you provide on your website. Use tools like Google Trends and Google Insights to discover these keywords. Use these keywords liberally, but make sure your content stays coherent and meaningful. Do not cram irrelevant keywords in your web pages, and do not make your web pages excessively lengthy.
  2. Use meaningful, accurate, and unique page titles (HTML TITLE tag) for your web pages. Do not cram irrelevant keywords into the page title.
  3. Use accurate and appropriate keywords in HTML META Tags (META DESCRIPTION, in particular). The META DESCRIPTION should include a brief but accurate summary of the contents of the web page it’s included in. Try using a different, unique, yet meaningful META DESCRIPTION in each web page. Do not cram irrelevant keywords into META Tags.
  4. Include relevant keywords in the URL of your web pages. Do not cram irrelevant keywords into page URLs, and do not make these URLs unnecessarily long.
  5. Do not create webpages with duplicate content on your website. If, for some reason, you need to maintain multiple webpages with duplicate text content, try using <LINK REL=”CANONICAL” … /> to refer to the original or canonical webpage from the duplicate pages. Do not use multiple URLs to refer to the same content.
  6. Use concise and accurate anchor text in your hyperlinks.
  7. Avoid making pages that include only Multimedia animation, Java Applets, or Javascript-generated content. This is especially true in case of the homepage (landing page) of your website. If you must include Flash or Shockwave or Silverlight or Javascript-only content, you must ensure that your visitors (and web-crawlers) have an alternate mechanism (in the form of simple, descriptive text-links) to navigate through your website, and easily get to the text-content that contains the information they seek. Yes, the information that your visitors are likely to be interested in, must necessarily be present in a text-only format somewhere on your website, and it should be easily accessible. Sitemaps make it easier for web-crawlers – and human visitors too, at times – to navigate through your website, especially if you use Flash or Shockwave or Silverlight or Javascript-only menus on your web pages. Generating an accurate sitemap for your website and placing a static text-link to it on your homepage, is a good practice.
  8. Make sure that every image displayed using the <IMG SRC … /> tag has a brief, but accurate description of itself, in its ALT attribute.
  9. Make sure that access to public areas of your website does not require clients (web-browsers, web-crawlers) to accept cookies. Also, avoid appending unnecessary parameters and Session Identifiers to the URLs of your web pages.
  10. Make sure that you use syntactically correct HTML in all your web pages. Keep your website free of script errors. Ensure that all your web pages are rendered correctly and consistently on multiple web-browsers. Your website should be usable on all major web-browsers (at least), like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari.
  11. Your website should remain accessible 24 x 7, so make sure you don’t host it on a server that keeps crashing every other day; without a reliable web-hosting service, none of your SEO efforts will give you the desired yield.
  12. Do not employ techniques to deceive Search Engines. Do not script your web pages to present different content to human visitors and different content to search engine crawlers – no special code for ‘Googlebot’, anywhere!
  13. Keep up with current trends. Blogging and social media have been getting a lot of attention lately. Start blogging if you have something interesting to share, and make it easier for people to link to your posts from their accounts on popular social networking and bookmarking websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc.
  14. Keep in mind that you need to develop your website primarily for human visitors, not search-engines! Your website should be easy to use, and should quickly and clearly provide visitors with the information they seek. You know you’ve built a good website if your visitors perceive it to be a satisfactory conclusion to the internet search that got them there.

Also, for your own sake, don’t worry about the PageRank that Google assigns to your web pages. A higher PageRank does not automatically guarantee a higher ranking in search results.

Lastly – and pay attention here, because most SEO experts won’t tell you this – stop worrying about Search Engine Optimization, and focus on offering better products or services (or whatever it is that your business offers), and on making your (prospective) customers feel good about doing business with you!

To learn more about SEO best practices, read Google’s guide to the basics of Search Engine Optimization (PDF), and Google’s Guidelines for Webmasters.

I hereby grant you a Diploma in Search Engine Optimization, and it didn’t cost you a penny. Just don’t mention it on your CV!

Introduction To Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a disputed branch of unconventional medicine, that sees diseases as disturbances or imbalances in the life force (vital force) of the patient. More than 200 years ago, Samuel Hahnemann (a German physician) propounded Homeopathy, based on the conjecture that substances that induce certain symptoms in healthy individuals, can cure diseases that are typically characterized by the same symptoms. He opined that ‘like cures like‘, and called this concept the ‘Law of Similars‘. Seriously. No kidding. That is the foundation of all of homeopathy. And to think that Hahnemann wasn’t particularly known for his sense of humour!


The concept of a life force, and the view that diseases are manifestations of disturbances or imbalances in the life force, did not come into existence with Homeopathy. These hypothetical ideas have their origins in antiquity, and continue to be concepts of central importance in medical philosophies that originated thousands of years ago, like Indian Ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine. This life force is called ‘Prana’ in Hindu beliefs, and ‘Qi’ or ‘Chi’ in Taoist philosophy.

History Of Homeopathy

Hahnemann formulated his theories on the basis of his experiments with the Cinchona shrub. (The bark of this shrub was used to treat Malaria for hundreds of years.) Hahnemann’s contemporary – Dr. William Cullen – a Scottish physician, had claimed in his medical transcripts, that the bark of Cinchona can cure Malaria, and it can also cause Malaria. Skeptical of Cullen’s claims about Cinchona being able to cause Malaria, Hahnemann decided to test it on himself. He started ingesting large (but non-lethal) quantities of extracts from the bark of Cinchona everyday, and about two weeks later, began experiencing fever, shivering, and joint pain – symptoms which also happen to be associated with early Malaria. Based on this experiment, he concluded (erroneously) that the bark of Cinchona can cure Malaria because it can cause some of the symptoms of Malaria in a healthy individual!

And so, an entire system of medicine was developed on the basis of a single observation.


Cinchona is the name given to certain species of large shrubs (or small trees) with evergreen foliage, native to tropical South America. The bark of the Cinchona shrub contains Quinine – a chemical compound that has antipyretic (alleviating fever), anti-inflammatory, analgesic (relieving pain), and anti-malarial properties. Quinine was isolated and named in 1820. The antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects of the bark of Cinchona shrub, however, had been known for hundreds of years before that. The Quechua Indians of Peru were known to use it as a muscle relaxant, to control shivering. Its first reported use against Malaria was in Rome, in 1631. It is no longer recommended as the first line of treatment against Malaria, because of its toxicity and adverse effects like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, vertigo, dizziness, headache, etc.


Cinchona Calisaya Illustration (Franz Kohler)

Cinchona Calisaya Illustration (Franz Kohler)


Dilution In Homeopathy

Hahnemann realized, probably through empirical observation, that giving appreciable doses of such symptom-causing substances to patients only exacerbated their symptoms. Fortunately, even in those times, aggravating the condition of patients and making their symptoms more severe was seen as a bad thing by Hahnemann. Therefore, he proclaimed that these symptom-causing substances should be diluted in either alcohol or water, to a point where no trace of the original substance itself could be detected in the solution.

Let’s assume, strictly for the sake of argument, and for no more than 42 seconds, that such substances could, possibly, by some stretch of a frivolous imagination, have some action against diseases that caused similar symptoms. How would such a highly diluted solution deliver any useful amount of the substance to the patient? Hahnemann theorized that the solution retains a memory of the original substance, regardless of the extent of its dilution. He expounded that the vital force of the original substance would continue to exist in the solution, and have the same therapeutic properties as the original substance, thereby curing the patient of his disease without making him experience any adverse effects of the medicine. Fantastic. But irrational, and simply not true. We’re no longer talking about science here; we’re talking about faith, about spirituality, and about mysticism.

Dilutions are central to homeopathy. The strength of a homeopathic solution is called potency. The higher the dilution, the more the potency. Higher dilutions are supposed to be stronger, and more effective, than lower dilutions. For a lower amount of some substance to be more effective against a disease (or a disease causing organism) than a higher amount of the same substance, is just fundamentally wrong, to say the least. Reminds me of the deadly face-to-foot style of kung-fu in Kung Pao: Enter the Fist (Movie, 2002).

Homeopathy contradicts all known mechanisms of action of chemicals on (disease causing) organisms. It goes against our understanding of typical dose-response relationships.

The Extent Of Dilutions In Homeopathy

When homeopaths tell you that homeopathic solutions are diluted, they really mean that. The original symptom-causing substance (called the mother tincture) is typically diluted in either alcohol or water to a point where just about 1 part of the substance can be found in several billion parts of alcohol (or water). More specifically, mother tinctures are usually diluted to scales between 1:10^12 to 1:10^60. Which means that if you were to get yourself a typical bottle of those sweet homeopathic pills, you would be lucky to get 1 molecule of the original substance in it!

Homeopathy claims to be able to cure serious diseases by using virtually untraceable amounts of substances that, in most cases, have absolutely no effect on the disease-causing organisms.

That’s insane. But it’s even more insane (and disturbing) for a significant part of the world’s population to adopt, accept, and endorse this unscientific and illogical system of prescribing inefficacious sweet pills as medicine, called homeopathy!

[ UK Science and Technology Committee concludes that Homeopathy is no better than placebos. ]

The Dangers Of Homeopathy

Homeopathic remedies, by themselves, are mostly harmless, and usually safe. They do not have any side effects – ever – simply because there is nothing in them to affect the body in any way. In fact, I actually like chewing on those sweet little pills doused in homeopathic solutions. The trouble begins when people move away from scientifically proven, established medical treatments and try their luck with Homeopathy.

[ Homeopaths risking lives by offering remedies against Malaria. ]

It is dangerous, sometimes even life threatening, to choose homeopathy over mainstream medicine for the treatment of serious ailments.

Personal Experience

I got into a heated argument with my sister a few years ago, because she insisted on using homeopathic medicine to bring down the 103°+ F fever that her three year old son was running. I tried explaining the  utter uselessness of homeopathy to her, and kept asking her to consult a mainstream paediatrician, or at least give my nephew some paracetamol to control his fever in the meantime, but she refused to listen. She gave him a few sweet pills prescribed by a local homeopath, and waited for the fever to come down. And waited. His temperature continued to linger above the 103° F mark, even 3 – 4 hours after the homeopathic dose. I finally managed to convince my sister to give him a paediatric dose of paracetamol, and he was his usual playful self again in about half an hour or so. We did visit a paediatrician the next day, and it all turned out just fine. Homeopathy, however, had failed miserably at something as basic as bringing down a moderately high fever.

Homeopathy Myths

  • Myth: Homeopathy takes time because it cures the disease completely.
    Fact: Homeopathy takes time because it doesn’t do anything. The body’s own immune system eventually gets rid of the infection, if it can.
  • Myth: Homeopathy doesn’t treat symptoms, it treats the underlying disease.
    Fact: It is indeed true that Homeopathy does not treat symptoms; unfortunately, it does not treat the underlying disease either. Various scientific studies and controlled clinical trials have concluded that homeopathy is no better than placebo.
  • Myth: Homeopathy offers effective remedies for fever and pain.
    Fact: Once again, the effect of Homeopathy on fever and pain is no more than that of a placebo. And how come homeopaths claim to have a remedy for fever? Fever is a symptom – it is not a disease in itself. And if homeopathy doesn’t treat symptoms, we shouldn’t see homeopaths prescribing pills to bring down fever! These pills don’t work anyway.
    [ The claim that homeopathic arnica (prescribed as a painkiller) is efficacious beyond a placebo effect is not supported by rigorous clinical trials. ]
  • Myth: Millions of people all over the world can’t be wrong!
    Fact: They most certainly can be. The better part of the world believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe until about 500 years ago!
  • Myth: Millions of people benefit from Homeopathy every year.
    Fact: Millions of people think that they benefit from Homeopathy. They get better on their own, thanks to their own immune systems.
  • Myth: Homeopathy can boost an individual’s immunity against diseases, and can be used effectively for prophylaxis.
    Fact: Homeopathy has no effect (beyond that of a placebo) on an individual’s immunity; using it for the prophylaxis of any disease is ineffectual and absurd.

I do, however, see a silver lining here. Homeopaths, at times, as a part of their treatment, recommend a few positive lifestyle changes to their patients. This is usually a good thing. (Hahnemann himself emphasized that good health cannot be achieved or maintained without a nutritious diet, proper hygiene, adequate rest, and regular exercise.) I also believe that most, if not all homeopaths truly believe in what they do, and in the efficacy of homeopathy. Through this post, I have only attempted to illustrate the logical flaws inherent in the very concept of Homeopathy. I hold nothing against the homeopaths who make a genuine attempt to cure patients by prescribing innocuous little sweet pills. But in the absence of a rational, scientific, demonstrable mechanism of action, Homeopathy is just a system of belief, not a system of medicine.

The Voice Of Reason

If believers in Homeopathy choose to continue with their homeopathic treatments, they should be free to do that. To the uninformed, a placebo is sometimes better than a pharmacologically active chemical preparation, for the purpose of treating minor ailments – those that a normal human immune system can easily resolve on its own. But to ignore the proven effectiveness and life-saving capabilities of mainstream medicine in favour of Homeopathy for potentially serious medical conditions, is illogical, and a definite risk to life and general well-being.

A Special Note On Hahnemann’s Noble Intent

Hahnemann developed Homeopathy at a time when western medicine was rife with unscientific, painful,  unnecessarily invasive, often dangerous, and sometimes lethal measures being purported as treatments for common ailments. Personally, I would much rather give my own immune system a chance to combat and cure any illness, than resort to any of the inane, irrational, and atrocious methods of medical treatment prevalent in western medicine in the late 1700s! Hahnemann was gravely concerned about the severe adverse effects and suffering commonly associated with the standard medical practices of that time. He splendidly grasped a basic rule of medicine – something that quite a few physicians and surgeons don’t understand even today – to do no harm! In fact, he gave up his medical practice for a few years and started working as a language translator, because he could not bring himself to administer the dreadful cures of western medicine to fellow human beings. For that thought alone, I have the utmost respect for Samuel Hahnemann. When Homeopathy was introduced to the world (more than two centuries ago), it was indeed better than the frighteningly illogical absurdities of western medicine being practised at that time, simply because it caused absolutely no adverse effects. In essence, Homeopathy relied entirely on the human body’s own immune system to fight off infections. But times have changed, and Homeopathy, in my opinion, has served its purpose, and served it well. It’s just time for all of us to move on now. Mainstream medicine, for the most part, is not as absurd as it used to be. It has its flaws, but it saves lives.

I look forward to hearing from people knowledgeable about Homeopathy, if they have rational, credible explanations to any of the fantastic claims that homeopathy makes. I am interested in seeing some scientific proof of the efficacy of Homeopathy – or at least a logical, believable explanation of its mechanism of action, without getting into unverifiable spiritual or supernatural claims. I will not argue against faith and belief systems, so if all you have to say is, “I just know it works!”, then please don’t go through the trouble of posting a response here.

When in doubt, question everything.