Originally posted on Mad Art Lab. Written by Anne Sauer.

I'm delighted to announce that all of us here at Mad Art Lab are putting together an old-school acitvity book! Think paper dolls, word searches, connect the dots, and kitchen experiments, but with more skepticism and alcohol. We'll be posting various activities as we develop them; here is an example of something I'm contributing:


Feeling a little chilly? Homeopathy can help! The principles of homeopathy tell us that minute traces of something refreshing, like lemonade, diluted over and over again in water and shaken a certain way should have you warm and cozy in no time. It’s like magic!*

What you’ll need:

  • 16 ounce glass
  • Spoon
  •  3 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 ounces water
  • Eyedropper
  • 30 vials, with stoppers, each containing 99 drops of water
  • Ice cubes
  1. Combine the lemon juice, sugar, and water in the glass and stir vigorously with the spoon until the sugar is dissolved. You’ve made lemonade!
  2. Using the eyedropper, draw up some of your lemonade, and then add a single drop to the first vial. Set the glass of lemonade aside.
  3. Stopper the first vial and shake to incorporate the drop of lemonade. Then, succus the vial 10 times to activate it (see Figure 1):


    a. Hold the vial firmly in your right hand with your thumb over the stopper.

    b. Shake it with 10 powerful downward strokes of the arm, letting each stroke terminate in a jerk by striking the closed right hand on the open palm of the left hand.

    1. Remove the stopper. Using the eye dropper, draw up some of the solution from the first vial, and then add a single drop to the second vial.
    2. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the remaining vials.
    3. That’s it! The 30th vial now contains a 30C dilution of lemonade. This means that 1 in 10^−60 drops will be lemonade. In other words, you would need to drink a quantity of this solution 10 billion times greater than the volume of the Earth in order to consume a single molecule of lemonade.
    4. Uncork the final vial and consume the homeopathic preparation to relieve your chills.
    5. If drinking 100 drops of well-shaken water didn’t make you feel warmer, go put on a sweater.
    6. Retrieve your lemonade. Add a few ice cubes and enjoy.

    *Seriously. You would need magic for this to actually work.



    All artwork by the amazing Brian G!

    Anne Sauer is an atheist with an appetite for science, good food, and making connections between the two. Anne is part of the booze-nerd collective Cocktail Lab, works as soda jerk at The Ice Cream Bar and Soda Fountain and helps organize the San Francisco Atheist Film Festival. Her favorite foods are salted caramel ice cream and chicken tikka masala. You can find her on twitter @aynsavoy.

    Amy Roth

    Amy Roth

    Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is the founder and president of the Los Angeles Women's Atheist and Agnostic Group: LAWAAG. She is also the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+.

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    1. April 30, 2012 at 10:28 am —

      This is awesome!

      I wonder how many users/defenders of homeopathy don’t realize that this is actually how homeopathic “treatments” are made.

      • April 30, 2012 at 11:50 am —

        Probably very few. Most people I’ve spoken to assume that “homeopathic” means “natural” and nothing more. When I’ve explained to people the actual homeopathic methods, they’ve universally (so far) said “well that’s just stupid” (or something similar). Of course, my friends aren’t into homeopathy, and I’ve never spoken to an actual homeopath. Other “natural” and “alternative” woo-woo nuts abound, but no homeopaths.

        So, um… yeah.

    2. April 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm —

      I’m with Zapski–in my experience, few people understand the principles behind homeopathic remedies. Admittedly, the people I’ve explained it to weren’t necessarily users (or frequent users), but they all equated homeopathic remedies with herbal remedies.

    3. April 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm —

      I wonder if this will help me balance my chakras, as mentioned in the “3-Minute Chakra Test” sponsored ad at the bottom of this post? I suppose so, since it would definitely make my Chakras 110% more balanced.*

      (The other sponsored ad is for Unjury brand (get it? it heals injuries!) Medical Quality Vanilla Protein. But I didn’t get any ads for Christian Mingle today. BTW, I’m not complaining. The more of their money the Skepchick Conspiracy can take, the better. “I got BLOG money, punk!” Rebecca shot back)

      [*] For the mathematically inclined,

      110% x old Chakra = new Chakra
      old Chackra = 0
      new Chackra = 0
      110% x 0 = 0


    4. April 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm —

      But you left out an important ingredient. From what I’ve seen on the labels of homeopathetic concoctions, alcohol is a very common ingredient…40%-50% grain alcohol by volume in my wife’s “Ambrosia” allergy remedy. Anyway, put that in your vial and drink it, then see if you get that warming feeling. If not, try another. I think you’ll find that homeopathy really can work when done properly. (And as a fellow San Franciscan, I need to check out this Cocktail Lab…just hope they don’t forget the booze.)

      • April 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm —

        Trust me–Cocktail Lab never forgets the booze. You should definitely check us out!

    5. April 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm —

      Homeopathic Lemonade: There’s nothing to it! (except water)

      This would be a great activity to conduct in schools to educate students.

    6. April 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm —

      After this one, let’s disprove acupuncture by using nails instead of needles…and show everyone that acupuncture is a scam…and that it kills people…

      Or let’s just agree that enjoy setting up the classic straw man argument by our ignorance of homeopathy. Let’s just agree that we’re hyper-rational reductionistic thinking and emotionally disturbed nerds who misunderstand whole systems. Although many of you were abused as teens and don’t have good “people skills,” you now can abuse other people anonymously on the web. How convenient.

      • April 30, 2012 at 10:19 pm —

        Approved for lulz

      • April 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm —

        Who here is anonymous? Oh right, you are. And we don’t need nails to disprove acupuncture, toothpicks work just as well.

        • May 1, 2012 at 7:12 am —

          Plus one :) Seriously, why would someone troll defend homeopathy?

      • May 2, 2012 at 4:41 am —

        I’ve found that very often, it’s not those skeptical of homeopathy, but rather those who use it, that are the most clueless about what exactly homeopathy is all about.

        The more dilute your knowledge of homeopathy, the better it works for you …
        Uncanny, isn’t it?

        In any case, I’m convinced that the main reason homeopathy has regained popularity in recent years is because it’s been able to ride along on the coattails of “herbalism” and “the return to natural/organic”. Even though homeopathy really only fits into those categories if you equate “natural” or “organic” with “you can make it yourself, in your own back yard”. I’d say neither of those properties is a ringing endorsement though …

    7. April 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm —

      I reckon after 10 “successes” on each of 30 dilutions most people will actually be warmer. Not to mention all the moving around fetching and carrying.

      A better experiment would be to use chilled ingredients, then leave the resulting homeopathic lemonade overnight before drinking it the next day when it’s at room temperature.

      Although I don’t think homeopathy actually cares about temperature, I’ve never seen it mentioned. So the whole experiment might be based on a false premise. Ahem.

    8. April 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm —

      That Moz Guy doesn’t know if “homeopathy actually cares about temperature.” It is good to see that he actually admits that he doesn’t know…that is better than everyone else here…but for the record, yeah, temperature does seem to matter…at least if one reads the basic science literature that shows effects on basophils (from potentized histamine)…but that effect goes away from certain high temps)…but heck, people here don’t seem to read research and would prefer to pontificate.

      • April 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm —

        I would love to see the evidence that a histamine (heterocyclic amine, C5H9N3, a chemical that is released by cells in response to injury or a reaction to allergens) diluted to nonexistence (potentized, a homeopathic term for those that are unaware) is somehow affected by temperature.

        Nothing, hot or cold is still nothing. An ice-cube that has been reduced to less than a molecule in an ocean is (for all useful human purposes) neither hot nor cold. The water or alcohol you put the nothing in may indeed be hot or cold but that is not relevant to the homeopath’s claim. The memory or energy of the diluted ingredient is what is claimed to have the effect on a person.

        The basic scientific literature tells us that you need a mechanism to produce a response. And you need evidence BEYOND a placebo effect for the scientific minded crowd to take you seriously.

        So when you can PROVE that water has memory or that like actually could cure like maybe we will take your little temper tantrum seriously. Until then, just remember that if water has a memory, then homeopathy is full of shit. (Thank you Kernan.)

    9. April 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm —

      I will not spoon-feed you. If you are really interested (and I don’t believe you are), you will find the study (actually there are several ones) …and you will find that certain high temperatures neutralize its effects…but you can (and will) re-stick your head in the sand and pretend that there is no evidence.

      People who look for a mechanism are those people who think that the world is a machine and that the Earth is flat, like your linear thinking.

      • May 1, 2012 at 12:10 am —

        I’m still waiting on that proof that water has memory. Give us a ring when you have it. Sure to win you the Nobel Prize! It would turn the world of physics AND medicine upside down.

        No, you still don’t have it?

        How about now?

        Ok. We will wait.

    10. May 1, 2012 at 8:26 am —

      Amy, it is almost as though you’ve never heard of google. In any case, you’ve proven your scientific aptitude already.

      • May 1, 2012 at 8:33 am —

        Yeah Amy, why don’t you use Google, and then Google can win the Nobel Prize? UH DURRR

      • May 1, 2012 at 8:50 am —

        You know, I drew that lemon just for you, lozier. If you don’t like it, just say so. You don’t have to do all this back and forth about not citing your sources or pretending that you’re not interested in winning a Nobel Prize. I can read between the lines.

    11. May 1, 2012 at 11:05 am —

      Actually, a Nobelist is doing some research on homeopathic medicine and just announced that his work has been replicated in Italy and Germany. Is this drawing on “authority”? Yep…and it is also drawing on something that people here don’t seem to give a fig about called “research”.

      Oh well, time for head to be back in the sand (or between the legs).

      • May 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm —

        Then let’s also draw on the authority of the other Nobel Laureates who agreed that Montagnier’s notion that solutions of DNA “could emit low frequency radio waves” and form ‘nano structures’ or ‘teleport’ its imprint to future enzymes was nonsense and, just like homeopathy or his idea that HIV/AIDS can be cured with nutrition and vitamins, has no mechanism for such behavior.

        And most damning of all, the man you hold up as supporting your magical thinking when asked about homeopathy and his research, when cornered, said he “cannot extrapolate it to the products used in homeopathy”.

        You and every other homeopathy proponent grasp at any straw that you can find to present as evidence and try to pretend there is science to back you up when, in fact, the preponderance of evidence (that _you_ seem not to have read) is squarely and overwhelmingly against you. You come here and attempt to chastise people about reading the research, but only the research that fits your particular narrow view; ignoring the research that smothers your magical thinking and will snuff it out just as it snuffed out the flat Earth, phrenology, perpetual motion, vitalism and other similarly quacky ideas.

        By the way, where does a nobelist sit in the orchestra? Is the nobel a woodwind or brass?

    12. May 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm —

      lozier, I have worshiped at the altar of the almighty google and researched the claims of homeopathy.
      Now, I am a few months away from a PhD in electrical engineering, and if you have questions about the theory of how wireless communications work I can reasonably say that there are very few people who could answer better than I could but as far as specific or practical application goes people who work in the industry would beat me with no trouble since the applications are not the focus of my research. Now while I am no where near winning a Nobel prize, and I almost certainly never will be that good at what I do, the same principle is true in the case you mentioned. This Nobelist you mention works in virology. Now while virology is certainly a science, it has very little to do with the mechanisms that homeopathy would use. While winning a Nobel prize in any field is an impressive feat, the prize does not mean that the recipient is automatically an expert in whatever they decide to talk about, even if what the subject is somewhat related to their prize. For example, winning a Nobel prize in literature does not make someone a linguist anymore than winning the prize would mean they now speak Swahili. An authority in one field does not also have to be an authority in another.
      As far as the studies that support the claim of homeopathy, in most meta-analysis studies the results are no different than placebos. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2125.2002.01699.x/abstract http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/@dh/@en/@ps/documents/digitalasset/dh_117811.pdf http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Homeopathy/Pages/Issues.aspx and that was from one search on google and a bit of cheating with wikipedia) So…. This research you mention, it has been done without results showing what you say it shows. In scientific research having one person replicate your results and 20 fail does not mean that since it worked twice it is true. In medical research this is more true than many other fields due to the difficulty of designing a good study and controlling for extraneous variables since you can not control a patients history.
      Now, you claim that you care about research, but you do not accept the results of the research, Or the accepted methodology that is used to determine the validity of research. I am not sure how you can justify saying that a few studies are your evidence when the same methods that are used to show that studies are meaningful show that the studies with positive results are outliers and do not mean that homeopathy works. If you are going to use science than you have to accept what it says, the sort of cherry picking required to claim that the research supports your claim is just dishonest.

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