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Old 17th June 2007, 10:50 AM   #1
Tez
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Homeopathy debunkers: Re Milgrom

Hey folks, who the heck is this guy?:

http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB...tentOnly=false

A colleague just forwarded this to me. Sad to say he seems to be at my institution, which I had been told has a pretty good chemistry department.

Is he the Brian Josephson of chemistry? His grasp (and abuse) of quantum mechanics is completely pathetic...
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Old 17th June 2007, 12:47 PM   #2
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Tez, Lionel embarrasses me, too, just by being a fellow organic chemist. He had a four-part series in the rag "Homeopathy" that I can send you if you want (PM me).

Milgrom starts with the assumptions that homeopathy works, and that QM explains it. Then his "Homeopathy" series goes on for around 60 pages of manic speculation, replete with numerous diagrams and equations. Someone once noted that if a person is talking about QM outside the atomic realm- you know it's nonsense.

You can see more about it here- http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...woo_its_no.php

I thought that blog had more on Milgrom; but when I searched it for Milgrom, I only found other, passing references.
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Old 17th June 2007, 01:01 PM   #3
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He gets a couple of mentions over at Bad Science:

http://www.badscience.net/?p=341
http://www.badscience.net/?p=170

His "quantum" stuff has also just been mentioned on the forum over there:

http://badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2592
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Old 17th June 2007, 01:40 PM   #4
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I believe the series goes on (and on and on), but the later episodes are published in a different journal (or more than one). A German woo journal I think. I suspect even Peter Fisher couldn't stomach the nonsense any more.

I sent the early episodes to a group of friends of mine which included some physicists, and asked for comment. The first email I got back said simply "Dagenham East".

I'm afraid our Lionel and reality parted company some time ago. Actually, I thought he'd retired? Last time I looked, he didn't show up on Imperial's staff list.

Rolfe.
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Old 17th June 2007, 03:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I believe the series goes on (and on and on), but the later episodes are published in a different journal (or more than one).
Eight numbered parts in the "Patient-Practitioner-Remedy (PPR) entanglement" series, plus some further articles using this as an excuse for RCTs of homoeopathy not working etc.
Quote:
A German woo journal I think.
Forschende Komplementärmedizin und klassische Naturheilkunde (Research in complementary and natural classical medicine).
Quote:
I'm afraid our Lionel and reality parted company some time ago. Actually, I thought he'd retired? Last time I looked, he didn't show up on Imperial's staff list.
His most recent "entanglement" paper, Journeys in the country of the blind: entanglement theory and the effects of blinding on trials of homeopathy and homeopathic provings, published in the March 2007 issue of Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine (!) still has him at Imperial College.
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Old 17th June 2007, 09:29 PM   #6
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Is dear old batty Lionel still twittering away with that stuff? Hasn't someone taken the butterfly net to him yet??

Ah, England! Where every man has the right to be as dotty as he pleases!
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Old 18th June 2007, 12:17 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Eight numbered parts in the "Patient-Practitioner-Remedy (PPR) entanglement" series, plus some further articles using this as an excuse for RCTs of homoeopathy not working etc. Forschende Komplementärmedizin und klassische Naturheilkunde (Research in complementary and natural classical medicine).
His most recent "entanglement" paper, Journeys in the country of the blind: entanglement theory and the effects of blinding on trials of homeopathy and homeopathic provings, published in the March 2007 issue of Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine (!) still has him at Imperial College.
He doesn't appear in the college directory any more, so presumably no longer has an office here. I doubt there are rules for whether retired academics can still use the institutional address.
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Old 18th June 2007, 12:51 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tez View Post
He doesn't appear in the college directory any more, so presumably no longer has an office here. I doubt there are rules for whether retired academics can still use the institutional address.
This just begs to be said...

Perhaps he's in another "institution" now...!
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Old 18th June 2007, 07:29 AM   #9
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Another comment on one of Milgrom's papers.
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Old 18th June 2007, 07:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I sent the early episodes to a group of friends of mine which included some physicists, and asked for comment. The first email I got back said simply "Dagenham East".
I think he's reached Upminster by now.
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Old 18th June 2007, 08:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JJM View Post
Milgrom starts with the assumptions that homeopathy works, and that QM explains it. Then his "Homeopathy" series goes on for around 60 pages of manic speculation, replete with numerous diagrams and equations. Someone once noted that if a person is talking about QM outside the atomic realm- you know it's nonsense.
Yeah I once heard someone talk about QM with regards to some cat and a box....

loco I tell you!
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Old 19th June 2007, 03:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
Yeah I once heard someone talk about QM with regards to some cat and a box....

Wasn't part of the point of the thought experiment that if you try to apply QM on a larger scale (as Milgrom is doing) the results are absurd?
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Old 19th June 2007, 06:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Wasn't part of the point of the thought experiment that if you try to apply QM on a larger scale (as Milgrom is doing) the results are absurd?

The really odd part is that in the early papers "weak quantum theory" is asserted to be a metaphor for the homeopathic therapeutic process. What then happens is that this weak and poorly defined metaphor then gets treat as established fact. Treating a metaphor as truth don't make it so!
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Old 19th June 2007, 03:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Wasn't part of the point of the thought experiment that if you try to apply QM on a larger scale (as Milgrom is doing) the results are absurd?
Yes, indeed.
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Old 19th June 2007, 03:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Patient-practitioner-remedy (PPR) entanglement. Part 6. Miasms revisited: non-linear quantum theory as a model for the homeopathic process.

The possibility that non-linear quantum theory could be used to model PPR
entanglement is discussed in relation to the treatment of miasms. In this model, miasms are imagined as disease entities behaving like solitary waves, or ‘solitons’ which, when trapped in a therapeutic state space, requiring equally soliton-like (miasmatic or high potency) remedies to effectively ‘annihilate’ them.

Come on, don't be too hard on the guy.

Haven't we all done that? Got stoned watching Star Trek, then bashed out a rambling, incoherent paper for Homeopathy, then regretted it the next day?
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Old 19th June 2007, 04:10 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Pipirr View Post
Come on, don't be too hard on the guy.

Haven't we all done that? Got stoned watching Star Trek, then bashed out a rambling, incoherent paper for Homeopathy, then regretted it the next day?
That was forty years ago. I thought you would have forgotten ...
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Old 19th June 2007, 04:19 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by JJM View Post
That was forty years ago. I thought you would have forgotten ...

Aye, but Pubmed won't.... the shame is eternal.
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Old 19th June 2007, 10:36 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Badly Shaved Monkey View Post
The really odd part is that in the early papers "weak quantum theory" is asserted to be a metaphor for the homeopathic therapeutic process. What then happens is that this weak and poorly defined metaphor then gets treat as established fact. Treating a metaphor as truth don't make it so!
It's the repetition that does it. As an authority rather appropriate to the subject matter of this thread wrote, "what I tell you three times is true".
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Old 19th June 2007, 11:15 PM   #19
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A discussion of some of Milgrom's work.
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Old 20th June 2007, 12:05 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Excellent. Thanks for that.
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Old 22nd June 2007, 08:04 AM   #21
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There has been a comment on one of Milgrom's "QM" papers, to which he has responded.

He says:
Quote:
I continually run my ideas passed [sic] highly competent quantum physicists (including a Nobel Laureate), so he should have no qualms concerning at the very least, their plausibility.
I wonder who that Nobel Laureate could be. None of Imperial College's Nobel Laureates seems to fit the bill. I wonder if it could be a Nobel Laureate already mentioned in this thread...

He's also cited a study he describes as "one of the latest positive trials of homeopathy":
Quote:
In ending this reply to Gates, I quote from one of the latest positive trials of homeopathy (Hardvogl M et al. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2007, 7;7 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-7) which concludes, "In primary care, homeopathic treatment for acute respiratory and ear complaints was not inferior to conventional treatment".
The paper he refers to can be found here (I had trouble finding it at first because Lionel failed to spell the name of the lead author correctly. He can't spell John Gribbin's name either). It is described as "an international, multi-centre, comparative cohort study of non-randomised design."

This looks a bit like another of those studies (we've discussed them before) where rather than comparing homoeopathy with a placebo, it is compared with "conventional treatment". If a condition is chosen for which the conventional treatment is not particularly effective, or which might clear up by itself over the timescale chosen, homoeopathy may well do pretty much as well as the conventional treatment. The study used patients with "acute runny nose, sore throat, ear pain, sinus pain or cough", and "the primary outcome criterion was the response rate after 14 days of therapy". What proportion of patients presenting with these symptoms could be expected to show 'complete recovery' or 'major improvement' even in the absence of treatment?

Any other comments?
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Old 22nd June 2007, 09:31 AM   #22
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Some more commentary on Milgrom
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20..._co_1.php#more
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Old 25th June 2007, 02:37 AM   #23
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There's been another comment on Milgrom's eCAM paper, which Milgrom has dismissed on the grounds that vets can't do maths and don't understand QM. Any chance that some physicists could have a go at it?
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Old 25th June 2007, 05:58 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
There's been another comment on Milgrom's eCAM paper, which Milgrom has dismissed on the grounds that vets can't do maths and don't understand QM. Any chance that some physicists could have a go at it?
The final note in your reference, by M. Sue Benford, concerns homeopathic preps that proved poisonous to Xenopus laevis tadpoles. This, she says, offers proof that homeopathic preps are "active." It could also mean that preps provided for experiments on tadpoles were doped with active ingredients. Homeopaths have been known to do that.
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Old 25th June 2007, 06:23 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
I love the closing para - it's all that is needed:
Quote:
So there really are people out there who actually think this is going to make homeopathy scientifically respectable. I'm not really expecting to make the blindest bit of difference but somebody has to read this stuff and point out that it's nonsense.
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Old 25th June 2007, 06:25 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by JJM
Milgrom starts with the assumptions that homeopathy works, and that QM explains it. Then his "Homeopathy" series goes on for around 60 pages of manic speculation, replete with numerous diagrams and equations. Someone once noted that if a person is talking about QM outside the atomic realm- you know it's nonsense.
Well-phrased by Jamie Whyte:

It is a rare foray into gobbledygook that does not begin
with a tribute to quantum mechanics.

~~ Paul
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Old 26th June 2007, 12:29 AM   #27
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Hi, I'm the writer of that blog, it's nice to be appreciated. I have an eLetter in beta testing, in which I will make points along the lines of "metaphor, analogy, or model? Make up your mind" and "Lawrence Landau (whom Milgrom cites) and Lev Landau (pioneer in theoretical understand of superconductors and superfluids) are not the same person". Along with "don't give me that Cartesian dualism nonsense".
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Old 26th June 2007, 01:12 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by JJM View Post
The final note in your reference, by M. Sue Benford, concerns homeopathic preps that proved poisonous to Xenopus laevis tadpoles. This, she says, offers proof that homeopathic preps are "active." It could also mean that preps provided for experiments on tadpoles were doped with active ingredients. Homeopaths have been known to do that.

For more about Benford and her tadpoles, see here.
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Old 26th June 2007, 05:00 AM   #29
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From Milgrom at eCAM, I wanted to highlight this sentence because it made me laugh out loud;

"Orthodox quantum theory's algebraic language is dominated by an incredibly small number called Planck's constant, and it is this that confines observations and measurements to events occurring at the sub-atomic through to the molecular domains (except as noted above). A much more general theory called Weak Quantum Theory (WQT) has been developed over the last five years which systematically relaxes some of orthodox quantum theory's algebraic axioms. This explicitly allows quantum theory's ideas of entanglement to be applied in such 'macroscopic' areas as philosophy, psychology and information dynamics - and into possible explanations of the dynamics of healing"

http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/eletters/4/1/7#61

I know that there is a slightly subtle point to be made about the way that Planck's constant emerges from the theory, but I just love the way he puts this point.

I'd hereby declare that I'd also like to relax the constraints of quantum mechanics. I have just as much right to make this arbitrary decision and the rest of you will just have to put up with the consequences. So let it be 7Js, er, 19, er 1,000. No, 0.01. No, let's make it vary weekly as the sum of the UK National Lottery numbers.

Stand back and watch the effects unfold throughout the mighty expanses of he Universe....

p.s. Thanks shpalman for popping by. It'll be nice to see a physicist's detailed impressions of the issues.
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Old 26th June 2007, 06:42 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by brodski View Post
I think he's reached Upminster by now.
He's hit the coast, caught a ship, and is halfway around the globe.

He's not even in the same time zone as reality.

I supose, though, entanglement could theoretically explain homeopathy. If one posited that something in the process individually entagled every particle in the doctor, with every particle in the patient, with every particle in the remedy, and...

Okay, so it isn't even theorectically possible. If we could manipulate entanglement to the degree suggested by this, we'd also be able to make Star Trek transporters.
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Old 26th June 2007, 09:37 AM   #31
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Given Milgrom's propensity to misspell names (e.g. Gribbon [sic], Auyung [sic] or Hardvogl [sic]), it's fortunate that when he chose an English figure associated with the sea to use in the introduction to the eCAM paper it was Nelson and not, say, Cnut.
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Old 27th June 2007, 12:31 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Given Milgrom's propensity to misspell names (e.g. Gribbon [sic], Auyung [sic] or Hardvogl [sic]),
Del Guidice [sic]. The paper is

Emilio Del Giudice, Giuliano Preparata, and Giuseppe Vitiello. Water as a Free Electric Dipole Laser. Phys. Rev. Lett. 61 (9) 1085-1088 (1988)

and it gets cited a lot as "evidence" for the memory effect of water.

In his eLetter in response to Simon Gates he mentions superfluidity and superconductivity next to a citation of someone called Lawrence Landau, and I still can't decide whether this was just a coincidence or if he really meant to cite Lev Landau.

Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
it's fortunate that when he chose an English figure associated with the sea to use in the introduction to the eCAM paper it was Nelson and not, say, Cnut.
Ouch.

I'm not sure if Harald Walach can even spell his own name - he turns up as Harold at least once:

Harold Walach. Generalized Entanglement: A New Theoretical Model for Understanding the Effects of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. J. Alt. Comp. Med. 11 (3) 549-559 (2005)
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Old 27th June 2007, 03:34 AM   #33
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A few years ago I was moved to email Harald Walach to enquire whether his "Magic of Signs" paper was an elaborate spoof. He replied, enthusiastically explaining how serious he was, and attaching proof pdfs of two or three more papers "in press" along the same lines.

Where do they find these guys?

Rolfe.
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Old 27th June 2007, 10:49 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I sent the early episodes to a group of friends of mine which included some physicists, and asked for comment. The first email I got back said simply "Dagenham East".
...!!!??? No, wait - oh yeah - tee hee

I notice that areas of interest within the borough include the ruined Anglo-Saxton Barking Abbey.

Yuri (it takes a while but I get there eventually)
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Old 28th June 2007, 02:55 AM   #35
Rolfe
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Originally Posted by Yuri Nalyssus View Post
...!!!??? No, wait - oh yeah - tee hee
It is one of the great disappointments of my life that there is no Tube station at Havering, and that this is not three stops past Barking. Given the proximity of the two places, it's just such a wasted opportunity!

By the way, did you notice the follow-ups?

Originally Posted by brodski View Post
I think he's reached Upminster by now.
Originally Posted by Huntsman View Post
He's hit the coast, caught a ship, and is halfway around the globe.

He's not even in the same time zone as reality.

Rolfe.
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Last edited by Rolfe; 28th June 2007 at 02:59 AM.
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Old 29th June 2007, 06:03 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
By the way, did you notice the follow-ups?
Maybe he's in an Austrian village with a name which is amusingly vulgar in English.
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Old 1st July 2007, 02:48 PM   #37
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One mile east of Hucking?
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Old 4th July 2007, 01:12 AM   #38
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Since eCAM haven't printed my eLetter yet: http://shpalman.livejournal.com/2771.html
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Old 4th July 2007, 02:40 AM   #39
Rolfe
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Originally Posted by shpalman View Post
Since eCAM haven't printed my eLetter yet: http://shpalman.livejournal.com/2771.html
Nice, insofar as I understand it!

Only one little quibble:

Quote:
This is not generally the case: it becomes the eigenstate which corresponds to the eigenvalue of the operator which has been measured and lead to the collapse.
"Lead" is either the present tense, or Pb. Past tense of the verb, which seems appropriate in this context, is "led".

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Old 4th July 2007, 03:01 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Nice, insofar as I understand it!
This thing has to be comprehensible to the kinds of people who see Milgrom's work and think it makes sense, so the more feedback and comments I get which ask for clarifications of weird physicsy things, the better.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Only one little quibble... "Lead" is either the present tense, or Pb. Past tense of the verb, which seems appropriate in this context, is "led".
Thanks, fixed.
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