Benveniste’s Experiments and the So-Called “Water Memory” Phenomenon: an Example of Serendipity?

20 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2023 Last revised: 7 Dec 2023

Date Written: December 7, 2023


Benveniste’s experiments – known in the lay press as the “water memory” phenomenon – are generally considered to be a closed case. However, the amount of data generated by twenty years of well-conducted experiments prevents closing the file so simply. An issue, which has been little highlighted so far, merits to be emphasized. Indeed, if Benveniste failed to persuade his peers of the value of his experiments, it was mainly because of a stumbling block, namely the difficulty of convincingly proving the causal relationship between the supposed cause (“informed water”) and the experimental outcomes in different biological models. To progress in the understanding of this phenomenon, we abandon the idea of any role of water in these experiments (“water memory” and its avatars). In other words, we assume that control and test conditions that were evaluated were all physically identical; only their respective designations (labels) differentiated them. As a consequence, labels (“controls” vs. “tests”) and the corresponding states of the biological system (no change vs. change) are independent variables. We show in this article how simple considerations based on probability theory allow to build a probability model where the order of measurements matters. This model provides an alternative explanation to Benveniste’s experiments where water plays no role and where the place of the experimenter is central.

Keywords: water memory, high dilutions, scientific controversy, serendipity, experimenter effect

Suggested Citation

BEAUVAIS, Francis, Benveniste’s Experiments and the So-Called “Water Memory” Phenomenon: an Example of Serendipity? (December 7, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Francis BEAUVAIS (Contact Author)

Scientific and Medical Writing ( email )


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