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Obama wins! Bush and Blair have gone. Could this mark the beginning of the end of the fashion for believing things that aren’t true?

Trinity College Dublin: the Phil. “Creationism is a valid world view”

This is the 324th year of the Trinity College Philosophical Society (known locally as the ‘Phil’).  Its former members include Bishop Berkeley,  Dean Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Samuel Beckett, and E.T.S. Walton .  It was founded for “discourse of philosophy, mathematics, and other polite literature ”, and is now a debating society.

Click to enlarge

The motion was Creationism is a Valid World view.  At the dinner before the debate, the students all dutifully stood as one of them recited long graces in Latin both before and after eating.  All very Oxbridge.  So I wasn’t optimistic.  However I hadn’t taken into account the conformist tendencies of undergraduates.   Notwithstanding the Latin graces, the result of the debate was very clear indeed.

Result. The Creationists were totally wiped out. Almost the only vote for the motion was a young born-again student, who made a desperately sincere speech.

I don’t need to give the details of what happened, because the opposer of the motion, Bob Bloomfield (of the Natural History Museum) has given an excellent account (The Discovery Institute send big guns to Ireland but only manage to fire blanks) on the Beagle project blog.  Two of the proposers were Americans, from the Discovery Institute, and they said what you’d expect: nothing that would impress anyone with any education.    I’ll settle for Bloomfield’s description of me as “charmingly irascible”. Irascible, moi? Well it would make anyone mildly irritated to have to spend time arguing about creationism in 2008.

Religion, all religion, seems to me to be boring and not a thing worth wasting good time on thinking about, but the rise of barmy fundamentalism has made it essential, if only so that genetics can be taught without  accusations of racism,   I’m entirely with Dawkins,  I can’t prove that there is no god, and I can’t guarantee
that the bottom of my garden is free of fairies.  Both questions merit about the same amount of time, though if pressed, I’d go for the fairies. They are, allegedly, rather better behaved than gods.

The 24th president of the USA said, when asked for his thoughts on evolution, said

“of course like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised”.

Woodrow Wilson, 1922

That, of course, was from a president who has been described as ” leading intellectual of the Progressive Era”.

How things have changed in the time of Tony Blair, George Bush and Sarah Palin. Very few people had such barmy beliefs in 1960, never mind 1922. My thesis is much the same as that of Francis Wheen in “How mumbo-jumbo conquered the world” Sometime around 1980, with the conjunction of Thatcher, Reagan and Khomeini it came into fashion to believe things that aren’t true, just because you wished they were (actually I’d put it a bit earlier than Wheen: arguably it started when the Beatles went to that guru), It was after that when suddenly people started to believe in magic medicine, religious fundamentalism. weapons of mass destruction, and, ahem,  that the market would make us rich if only we would remove all the regulations.

Tony Blair defended in parliament the Emmanuel School which is run by a young earth creationist and used car dealer, Peter Vardy.  The head of the school, Nigel McQuoid, features strongly on the web site of the Christian Institute, This curious organisation seems to be devoted largely to creationism, homophobia and the virtue of beating children (a search of the site for “corporal punishment” gives 43 hits).  An essay by Burns & McQuoid says

“There are those who argue that Science and Christianity can be harmoniously reconciled .  ; ;. We cannot subscribe to this view”

The former head of science (yes, of science) at McQuoid’s school, Steven Layfield, had an article on the Christian Institute web site. It vanished as soon as it got some publicity but you can read it at http://www.darwinwars.com/lunatic/liars/layfield.html.
Try this quotation.

“Note every occasion when an evolutionary/old-earth paradigm (millions or billions of years) is explicitly mentioned or implied by a text-book, examination question or visitor and courteously point out the fallibility of the statement. Wherever possible, we must give the alternative (always better) Biblical explanation of the same data.”

These guys are really at the fruit-cake end of the religious spectrum.  In contrast, the young anglican chaplain of Trinity, Darren McCallig, spoke against creationism, eloquently and sensibly.  His religiousness did seem at times to be diluted almost to homeopathic extremes, but all the better for that. He seems to have a sense of humour too, judging by the poster for his services.
click to enlarge

There is, of course, a very healthy opposition to creationists in the USA too,  I like particularly Gerald Weissman’s article “The facts of evolution: fighting the Endarkenment” (it may have been the first time that I saw the wonderful word endarkenment, which describes so well the last 30 years). It starts thus.

“Those of us who practice experimental science are living in the best of times and the worst of times, and I’m not talking about A Tale of Two Cities, but a tale of two cultures. “

Here are a couple of pictures of the meeting.

Chris Stillman (geologist)

Berlinski (left) Luke Ryder (speaking), Bloomfield, DC, Stillman (right)

And some pictures of Dublin here

James Joyce, TCD quadrangle and Molly Malone. Click to view

UCL homeopathy debate

This was organised by the UCL students’ debating society.  The Darwin Lecture theatre was surprisingly full for this debate, but they weren’t all students. As usual on these occasions, the homeopaths tried to pack the audience, but this time they failed.  That tactic is fair enough I suppose, but it means that the vote failed to tell us anything much about the opinion of students, beyond the fact that not many of them opposed the motion.

There are a few though. To the horror of some of our pharmacology and neuroscience undergraduates, a student society devoted to medicines that don’t work has been started at UCL, for the first time ever.  Luckily, it seems to be a rather small society.  I was fascinated to see that they are going to hear about the evidence base for complementary therapies, from George Lewith. I had occasion a while ago to look at Dr Lewith’s attitude to evidence: see Lewith’s private clinic has curious standards.

The proposers were Simon Singh and me. Simon is author of, among other things, Fermat’s Last Theorem and Trick or Treatment.  I thought he did an excellent job.




Singh pointed out that, contrary to the view propagated by quacks, science likes wacky ideas, as long as you can produce the evidence for them  He cited dark matter as an example.

The main opposer was my old friend Peter Fisher, homeopathic physician to the Queen.  It was a pleasure to show the video of Fisher agreeing with me that there is not enough science in homeopathy to justify a BSc degree in it.  Fisher, in his papers, strikes me as one of the most honest of homeopaths.  He was “very angry” when homeopaths were caught out recommending their sugar pills to prevent malaria.  But is his speech, he struck me as less than honest. He cherry-picked the evidence quite shamelessly as usual.  And his suggestion that there was an analogy between the ‘memory of water’ and a DVD was disposed of ably by a physics student who spoke from the floor.

The results were too close for comfort, 65 for, 53 against and an amazing 37 abstentions,

Sadly we’ll never know how the students voted, because of the imported homeopaths.

Dr Brian Kaplan was there.  He had given the meeting some advance publicity, in a web posting that also kindly gave publicity to our 2006 letter to the Times. He didn’t like the letter, which is unsurprising given that it turned out to be more effective than we could ever have hoped (see also here).



On the second row, getting very excited, was homeopath Grace Da Silva-Hill and her husband,  She runs the ‘Healing with Grace’ business.  On her web site she makes the ludicrous claim that

“Homeopathy will treat the cause of your health problem, not just alleviate your symptom”

She also says, inter alia, that

“Homeopathy is effective in treating a wide range of conditions such as: asthma, . . . “

In contrast, the Cochrane review says

“There is not enough evidence to reliably assess the possible role of homeopathy in asthma. “

I have been sent her account of the debate (a reply to a query from the ubiquitous Dana Ullman).

“Hello Dana, The debate, on monday 20th Oct., organised by UCL debating society, was poorly managed, and biased, attended mostly by students, who appear to have gone there to practice their debating skills. The motion was lost by 12 (65 for and 53 against), with 37 abstentions. Peter Fisher put on a good show, and so did his second, in comparison with the rather stale and poor presentation of Simon and Qulquoun (sorry, can never spell this). My husband Ken did a rather
good caricature of him, unfortunately can’t share it here. Pity there were not more  homeopaths/supporters there. Kind regards,”

Uhuh. Well, I guess she would say that.

You can judge the critical faculties of Mrs Da Silva-Hill from a comment she left on a piece in the Daily Telegraph, ‘Homeopathy putting lives at risk with claims’. I quote from it verbatim.

“The public does not care about the research available, the public care about having their health problem sorted, where conv. medicine has failed,”

(I apologise for attributing to Mrs Da Silva in the original post a quotation from the Telegraph that appeared above her name but was actually written by somebody else. I apologise also for using a picture of her without permission.)

On the way out of the debate, I walked back to Euston Road with another homeopath, William Alderson, who had come all the way from Kings Lynn to cast his vote.  He was earnest and sincere, the conversation was amicable but his idea of evidence was so different from mine that no progress was made. You can read more about Alderson on Dr Aust’s blog.

It’s fascinating stuff.

Follow-up

Dr Brian Kaplan has posted some splenetic comments on this post. I suppose the paranoid tone is an indication that we are winning, but I do wish he’d be a bit more careful about the facts. Let me correct some of them.

(1)Neither the letter of May 2006, nor its follow up in May 2007, was written under the NHS letterhead. The follow-up letter of May 2007 contained the words

“If you have not already reviewed your own trust’s provision, you might find it useful to consider, in conjunction with your Director of Public Health, the paper that we have enclosed which, while not a full review of the scientific position, has been used by other trusts to promote evidence based commissioning.”

The enclosed form was a sample commissioning letter which reproduced the NHS logo with a notice saying “insert your NHS logo here”. The accompanying letter made it perfectly clear that the enclosed form was simply an example to help those who wanted to save money and not an official NHS communication.

(2) Kaplan says I accuse him of lying to his patients, but his reference is to (an old version of) my Dilemmas at the heart of alternative medicine. It says nothing of the sort. I have said many times that I believe homeopaths are perfectly sincere, but they are just deluded. The reference to lying in the ‘dilemmas’ concerns how to get the maximum placebo effect when you know it is a placebo. Homeopaths have not reached that stage yet.

All this information has been available since May 2007.  He should have checked.

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157 Responses to Two debates and two wins: creationism and homeopathy

  • The UCL students’ CAM society website is a hoot. If you click on the link that says `Interesting’ there is a blank screen. So they could not think of anything interesting? At least this travesty is not hosted on UCL’s servers. Also look at the list of upcoming events – the usual dog and pony show of woo artists, with not a critical thinker among them. It would be interesting to know a bit about the society’s membership – my guess is that they are mostly arts and humanities students.

  • Excellent post DC.

    I never thought I would say this but I would almost possibly maybe go to the chapel at Trinity just to hear those services. That is, assuming I could get out of bed on a Sunday morning after a Saturday night in Dublin.

    Loved the comment by Singh that science likes wacky ideas. As an earth scientist (academically and practically, once upon a time) my favourite is Alfred Wegener and continental drift. Initially decried as a loony and gradually regarded as a genius once all the evidence started slotting into place.

    Certainly he got the driving force behind it wrong but the overall theory was still correct.

    And how disgraceful is it that your students go to a debate to practice their debating skills. Intolerable (especially if you lost like the sour faced letter you quote above from some hokumist).

    Even packing it out with a claque of mumbo jumboists they lost – with a remarkable lack of grace as well.

    Could I make a comment about Ireland here. My mother is Irish and I used to spend a lot of time there. I found very little taste in Ireland for woo in general. I wonder if this is the result of effectively emerging from a fairly stultifying religious stranglehold – lose one dogma and don’t fill the gap (of course I might be completely wrong here and quackery may well be flourishing in Ireland).

  • John Hooper – there is plenty of woo in Ireland!.

    Excellent news DC – very enjoyable posting.

  • What an interesting and surprising poster for the Church of Ireland chaplaincy at Trinity! I’d loved to have attended the “Gospel according to Father Ted” service on Oct. 12. How might they have dealt with the following gems?:

    From “Tentacles of Doom”:
    ————————-

    Bishop Facks: So, Father, do you ever have any doubts about the religious life? Is your faith ever tested? Anything you’ve been worried about? Any doubts you’ve been having about any aspects of belief? Anything like that?
    Father Dougal: Well, you know the way God made us all, right, and he’s looking down at us from Heaven and everything?
    Bishop Facks: Uh-huh.
    Father Dougal: And then His son came down and saved everyone and all that?
    Bishop Facks: Yes.
    Father Dougal: And when we die, we’re all going to go to heaven?
    Bishop Facks: Yes, what about it?
    Father Dougal: Well, that’s the bit I have trouble with.

    From “Old Grey Whistle Theft”:
    —————————–

    Father Ted: It’s not as if everyone’s going to go off and join some mad religious cult just because we go off for a picnic for a couple of hours.
    Father Dougal: God, Ted, I heard about those cults. Everyone dressing in black and saying our Lord’s gonna come back and judge us all!
    Father Ted: No… No, Dougal, that’s us. That’s Catholicism.

    From “Hell”
    ———-

    Father Dougal: What’s the Magic Road, Ted?
    Father Ted: It’s one of those bizarre natural wonders where everything has gone haywire and nothing works the way it’s supposed to. It’s a bit like you Dougal, except it’s a road.
    Father Dougal: I still don’t understand. It’s a kind of a mad road?
    Father Ted: Yes, it’s what’s called a strange phenomenon. If you stopped a car on it and took off the handbrake, it would roll uphill. And water would flow up it.
    Father Dougal: That’s nearly as mad as that thing you told me about the loaves and fishes!

    Genius! “Father Ted” was a fantastic sitcom which I like to think contributed strongly to the dramatically falling numbers signing up for the priesthood in Ireland.

    Great post David – thanks for sharing this. Keep up the inspirational work!

  • Dr-star-T

    My apologies. Woo is indeed an insidious little bastard isn’t it. Worse than crabs.

    Maybe it’s just that my family seem more interested in enjoying themselves rather than worry about woo related rubbish (and I am not sure they even trusted “proper” doctors that much either as my mother and father always called the doctor the “quack”. Any sort of priest/vicar type was always referred to as the “devil dodger”).

    I guess it goes back to the Chesterton comment that when you stop believing in god, you don’t believe in nothing: you end up believing in anything and everything.

    I am not sure that is globally applicable though. I don’t believe in god and I certainly don’t believe in anything and everything – not least the hokum that DC so accurately spears.

  • Regarding woo in Ireland, I’m afraid Dr-star-T might be right . While I don’t remember homeopathy, crystals, reiki etc being much around when I was growing up in NorthWest Ireland in the 70s, there was, in rural areas anyway, some credence given to faith healers and the like. I’m sure poverty and the cost of medical – and veterinary – care played a part in this. And perhaps the fact that most medical care in Ireland is still paid for privately or through insurance is relevant to the increasing popularity of alternative therapies there.

    Though John Hooper has a point about the religious stranglehold: the major teaching hospitals in Dublin e.g. the Mater and St. Vincent’s had strong links to religious orders, who also controlled the education system, and tended to be, in my memory, suspicious of things like yoga, given its links to eastern spiritual traditions. I’m not sure how they squared this attitude with their belief in the power of prayer, supposed miracles at Lourdes etc.

  • Good reference Claire.

    At the risk of sounding like a mentalist from the Daily Mail “you really could not make this stuff up”.

    “””””Clare Sheehan, director of the Galway College of Homeopathy, has already submitted its course to be accredited at BSc honours level and Gerry Murphy of the Dublin-based Irish School of Homeopathy is planning to follow suit if the Galway submission is successful.

    Dr Brian Hughes, a leading psychologist at Galway University, is concerned that if homeopathy degrees are accredited by Hetac, it will “cast a shadow” over all other Hetac qualifications.

    “Homeopathy is the process of rejecting the very notion of research and of evidence itself, ” he said. “A ‘science’ degree in homeopathy would be a complete contradiction in terms.”

    “No comment is the best comment, ” said Sheehan, when asked about scientists who argue her speciality is not a science. “We are happy to share our research material with anyone who questions the scientific status of homeopathy.””””””””””””””””””

    Maybe we should organise a campaign to ask MS Sheehan for copies of her research material demonstrating the scientific basis of HY.

    I would love to understand this but fear I might just get a collection of mumbo jumbo and some anecdotes along the lines of “I was sick for years and HY cured me in days”.

    My rough estimate is that a B.Sc course which explored the science of HY should be doable in about three days (allowing one day to register, one to find the lecture room and one to celebrate graduation).

    Cut down on student debt though wouldn’t it.

  • The Galway College of Homeopathy is also home (part of the time) to Kate Chatfield
    , who has plenty of valuable experience running the successful Homeopathy BSc at UCLAN.

    They also have Alastair Gray, who has conducted many valuable provings of efficacious remedies such as “White Tailed Spider, Box Jelly Fish, Moreton Bay Fig, Tea Tree, Waratah, Liquorice, Cockroach, Bufo, Seahorse, Cactus, Kowhai, Pearl, Mosquito, Irukandji, and Tar Tree”.

    Fergus Cronin looks like a nice chap too. He loves everybody, and his specialism is organic/biodynamic inspections, whatever they are…

  • That would be Kate “only by the label” Chatfield.

  • I seem to have died.

  • Mike – I checked out Gray’s website. Insane, but it did give me my laugh of the day.

    What on earth is a liquorice proving supposed to prove (?). And what would the resultant pixy dust cure – Bassetts Syndrome ?

    Interestingly enough you cannot explore what these provings consist of.

  • If you want complete and utter full on lunacy then check out the “proving” of a Welsh shipwreck. Here:

    http://uk.geocities.com/veryscarymary/helvetiaproving.html

    Apparently it (whatever it is) affects the trains and the transport network.

    I read this and assumed I had either slipped into a parallel universe or it was part of some elaborate p**s-take.

    And part of Gray’s site exactly mimics the comment about anecdotal evidence I made in the posting before yours.

    “””””””Hippie Chick New Woman October 2001
    A patient tells her story of seeing a homeopath. Going from requiring major sinus surgery for her ongoing respiratory symptoms before homeopathy, to being symptom free after treatment this is a light hearted subjective view of homeopathic treatment”””””””””

    Interestingly you cannot get beyond this page. The woosters are not too keen on sharing their “science” or peer review are they.

    I don’t wish to appear prurient here but Gray seems inordinately obsessed with curing males and getting more men into his surgery:

    “”””””Confusion, Identity, as to his sexual The Homeopath London 1999

    An article exploring the use of the new homeopathic remedy Hydrogen, and some preconceptions and ideas we are confronted with in the clinic on gender issues and human sexuality””””””””””””

    So hydrogen is a “new” remedy ? I am no astrophysicist but hasn’t hydrogen been around in abundance for quite a while now ?

  • If homeopathy induces the symptoms of cynicism and piss-taking, then the homeopathic remedy for this regrettable “micro-fascist hegemony of “evidence-based” “thinking” ” (TM Dave Holmes, Christine Barry et al) is obviously a very dilute piss-take.

    Could I perhaps recommend my song “Super Calibrated Shaking”?

  • Wait wait wait – this is a cracker. On the Irish School of Homeopathy website, they are proud to proclaim that they are *actually* snake-oil sales people.
    Here is the jpg
    From their prospectus
    Irony-meter broken. Again.

  • @Dr-star-T – Well, the Sisters of Mercy never told us that St Patrick legend about banishing snakes from Ireland was open to Freudian interpretations!

  • Nice snake -shame about the oil.

    You have my sympathy re. the irony meter. I gave up writing satire for similar reasons.

  • JH – Surely that Helvetia blurb is a p***-take ? Please someone tell me that it is. And why prove a shipwreck if it going to have such dire effects on everyone? There I was, thinking that hoeopathy was so gentle ……….

    Then there is the very interested-looking snake. It reminds me of someone, though I’m not sure who. Probably someone in the government I would guess: just can’t quite place him.

  • Claire – you beat me to the Freudian interpretation. Snakes and suppression of sexuality – hmmmmmm. The good doctor of Vienna would love that one. He would have a field day with that and with Gray.

    Lindy – it pains me to say it but I do not for a second think that the shipwreck “proving” is a p**s take. I only wish it were. I could then have a laugh and move on but alas I feel they are deadly serious. I was truly amazed at the effect on the transport grid across the UK – who would have thought that diluted wood could do this ! Amazing.

    Logically a 200C dilution of Helvetia wood should cure traffic jams – but how to apply it ? Even better are the descriptions of “a sinking feeling” from “proving a shipwreck. The ship never sank – it ran aground. Self fulfilling prophesy perhaps.

    You only have to look at Mike Esleas posting above to see some of the weird things they “prove”.

    The helios website is even worse. Everything on earth seems to have been “proved” including dogs testicles. My favourite proving is of diptherinum (or something like that – I cannot be arsed looking at the site again). This apparently cures diptheria. As DC points out in a brilliant table in another posting diptheria has been eradicated by vaccinations based on that sciencey evidence-based stuff.

    To the good doctors above. I can supply quantum based tachyon-bio-energetic irony meters to replace your broken ones. They also measure auras and chakras. Yours at the unbelievable price of £249.99 (or £7.99 at Maplins).

  • Claire – that is indeed less than hyper-critical. Usual recitiation of mumbo jumbo nonsense.

    I liked the quote from a HY wooster that “””a child can be given Belladonna homeopathic remedy and Calpol for a fever”””. I wonder which one of them is efficacious ?

    The five point plan at the end is fairly sensible though, although it is completely independent of all of the mumbo-jumbo remedies mentioned in the rest of the article.

    My partner says that I rely too much on taking the p**s and sarcasm and woosters are immune to this anyway having already suspended their critical faculties.

    So I would like to pose a serious question.

    Are HY vendors trained in diagnosis ?

    I was thinking about headaches – for which you can pick up off-the-counter HY “cures”. This rather militates against the touchy feely “whole body” aspect of HY.

    Even if you go to a HY vendor for a lovey dovey consultation how would he diagnose what caused your headace.

    I have had headaches from an impacted wisdom tooth (no dental problems though) and from needing glasses (too much computer use and reading).

    My doctor and dentist sorted the first problem and the optician sorted the second.

    The only other headaches I have had have been self inflicted and are usually confined to Saturday and Sunday mornings.

    If I go to a HY vendor how would he make a diagnosis between:
    – needing glasses
    – needing a wisdom tooth removed
    – having a brain tumour
    – having any other complaint/illness whic causes headache.

    Ultimately it would be irrelevant because he/she (apologies to NAWD) would still “prescribe” what is effectively nothing.

    Obviously I doubt the validity of the HY “cure” but I am interested in how they identify the appropriate “cure”.

    I would be a bit hacked off the get a sugar pill for some phantom illness when I actually had a brain tumour or bone cancer.

  • “Are HY vendors trained in diagnosis ?”
    I think that is one of the scariest things about CAM practitioners – they can give you a made-up diagnosis and it might not be a problem if there’s nothing seriously wrong with you. But what if there is?

  • Hello,
    I wonder sometimes why no-one ever emails and asks me the questions you pose on your sites/blogs….and then acts as if I have said/answered your internal queries, when I haven’t even been approached. I might not answer as I’m getting a bit tired of your attack-mode but at least I would be given the courtesy of reply.
    I can track every visit to my site/s and was interested to read you seem to think that I said the proving of the shipwreck affected the traffic…DOH..where exactly have I said that?
    I recorded how unusual it was that the provers who were ‘stuck’ in their lives (the ship is ‘stuck’ in the sand) were also submitted to being ‘stuck’ in traffic during the proving. I think you’ll find the word to use is
    co-incidence.
    No where have I said the remedy affected the traffic, so stop putting that as a fact. It isn’t and it makes me sound as if I’m away with the fairies. I’m not.
    And one further point.
    There is no need to be so rude about our work or what we do. We work mostly privately and if clients don’t want our services, they don’t have to have them. If they want Homeopathy on the NHS, they can be treated by medically trained Dr’s in regular Homeopathic Hospitals (since 1841 in Liverpool).
    No-one is duping people, ruining their lives,killing them or subjecting them to things without their knowledge. All my clients know exactly what is happening in their treatment and in fact, are treated by me with respect.
    I request you do the same.
    Have respect.
    If you don’t want to have Homeopathic treatment, don’t have it. It’s your choice, but if other people do, and they like it and it works it’s none of your business and you should find other things to occupy your time. Positive things that benefit people.
    I’ve never met a more negative bunch of people in my life who enjoy making fun of professionals in their field, intent on raising hackles and being verbally aggressive.
    Homeopathy doesn’t do harm, kill, maim or have side-effects. It has been used for over 200 years and has a wonderful history of gentle treatment and care for the individual.
    Don’t forget we are humans just the same as you, and just because you don’t understand or enjoy what we do doesn’t make it something to make such a fuss about. The world is big enough to incorporate Homeopathy and ‘main stream medicine’.
    Allow people to make their owns minds up without filling them with out-dated and incorrect assumptions.
    Mary English DSH RSHom
    Registered Professional Homeopath

  • And it can only get a lot worse.

    Choked on my Darjeeling this morning when I read in the Grauniad that 29% of teachers were in favour of teaching creationism and “intelligent design” in schools.

    So in any collection of teachers more than one in four of them (and not far off one in three) want to teach the most ridiculous mumbo-jumbo imaginable.

    I need to buy one of my own irony meters now as mine is FUBAR.

    I am so depressed and incensed by this nonsense I am going to spend the rest of the day working. I might even have to ask NAWD for St Johns Wort to calm me down.

    In the beginning there was darkness and nothing. God said “let there be light”. There was still nothing but you could see it better.

  • Veryscarymary

    Do you think that homeopaths who recommend their pills to prevent and treat malaria do no harm?

    Do you think that homeopaths who treat AIDS in Africa do no harm?

    Do you think that the vice-president of the North American Society of Homeopaths who claims to treat smallpox, diphtheria and rabies with homeopathy does no harm?

    Do you believe that the constant anti-vaccination propaganda of homeopaths does no harm?

    Even if one excludes these obviously dangerous people from the argument, I think that homeopathy does intellectual harm. It teaches people to believe things that aren’t true, It may not poison your body but it poisons your mind.

    The fact that most homeopaths I have met are nice, well-meaning people does not mean that they pose no dangers.

    Believing things that aren’t true is bad for you, whether it’s a belief in the efficacy of medicines that contain no medicine, a belief in non-existent WMD or a belief that deregulation of financiers will make us all rich.

    I’m afraid that it will take more than constantly referring to yourself as “professional” to counter these arguments.

  • Mary

    There are medical and academic contributors to this site who can skewer you nonsense far more effectively than me but let me have a go anyway (as I have made several references to your site here). Addressing your points in order:

    Nobody ever bothers to email you as they would regard anything you said as morally, intellectually and scientifically dubious, indeed absolutely without any merit whatsoever.

    You have in any case been afforded the courtesy of a reply on Professor Colquhoun’s site.

    I only repeated what you posted on your website. I understand that your “proving” entails recording your feelings for a period of time. You chose to select a few anecdotes from what were presumably more comprehensive reports from your “provers” (assuming these were not the sum of their feelings over the period). You chose to include the references to traffic blockages on the trains, roads and underground.

    Science is not really about measuring coincidence – interesting that the concept is. It is not a “coincidence” that smallpox has been eradicated globally nor is it a coincidence that HY hokum had nothing to do with that eradication.

    You use the word “remedy” presumably in connection with whatever you concocted from the wreck of the Helvetia. Could you explain to a non-medical person:

    (a) What possible “remedy” could be concocted from a massively diluted piece of semi-petrified wood
    (b) What illness would this “remedy” cure

    I feel perfectly entitled to be rude about your work and what you do. I feel it is utterly unscientific and without merit. You undertake a dubious experiment with no controls whatsoever and cherry pick a few random anecdotes to support your “case” (whatever that might have been).

    Of course you work privately. MOST NHS doctors understand your work to be meaningless. As ever, to understand HY vendors motivations one need merely “follow the money trail”.

    You are duping people. There is no scientific evidence that HY is effective other than as a placebo.

    By giving them false advice (i.e with respect to malaria) you are potentially killing them. How does HY cure diphtheria – there is no need for it to do so as vaccination eradicated it.

    You are potentially killing them with anti-vaccination advice. (By “you” I mean the HY business community in general).

    Your CLIENTS (another dead financial giveaway – doctors have patients) cannot possibly know what is happening in their treatment – quite simply because you do not.

    You are not really correct when you say it is
    none of our business but it is certainly your business.

    Medicine is not really about what people “like”. It is about what has scientifically been proven to work. Something that hardly applies to HY.

    You are correct in that HY in itself probably doesn’t harm, kill or maim. But nor does it do anything else. It “cures” self limiting illnesses in 72 hours rather than the three days they would otherwise improve in.

    I have never met a more positive bunch of people in my life than the contributors to this site (and its associated sites). People who are involved in proper medicine which delivers proper measurable results. In contrast please let me know of any pandemic disease or illness HY has eradicated from the planet.

    The fact that this rubbish has been around for 200 years only confirms the old adage that a sucker is born every minute.

    HY has no history of treatment (pace smallpox, cholera, diphtheria, measles ad infinitum). No demonstrable evidence over two centuries of taking money from the gullible.

    We do not criticise this hokum because we do not understand it. There is nothing to understand in this land of naked emperors.

    You do not understand how it is supposed to work, thus the changing basis of why it is supposed to work and the increasing resort to stuff like bio-energetics, quantum mechanics and water memory.

    Nor does medicine seek to fill people’s minds with outdated and incorrect assumptions. You (and your business community) do that with a form of mumbo-jumbo which should have been relegated to the dustbin of history along with witch doctors (with whom you have a lot in common).

    I am singularly unimpressed with your “professional” qualifications as well and cannot regard them as having any degree of authority or validity. They are as meaningless as A Levels from Hogwarts or my Ordained Pastorship in the Church of the FSM.

    I trust I have not ommitted anything.

  • As ever DC skewers this nonsense far more effectively than me at: http://dcscience.net/?p=21

    Best summarised as:

    Robert Koch – Medical genius

    Samuel Hahnemann -Medical dim-wit

  • JH – You don’t seem to have left out anything and I share your desperation.

    Mary – You say you would like us to ask you questions so I presume this includes your astrology practice as well as homeopathy. This may seem harsh, but you were pretty forthright in your comments on this site.

    Do you really believe all the things you put on your website about astrology? Can you really justify people paying you to tell them things about themselves that you base on the stars?

    And what, precisely, are ‘indigo children’?

    http://www.maryenglish.co.uk/indigo1.htm

    You also say, in so many words, that other medical practitioners do not ask such searching questions as you do as a homeopath/astrologer: please could you provide evidence of this? If you are so certain, maybe this has been researched and the results published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    The view I have of alternative therapists is that they feel superior to doctors, because they ‘treat the whole person’, though no-one has ever explained to me what that entails. I see little evidence of humility or questioning amongst CAM proponents. Maybe you can enlighten me on that too, though I will take some convincing with all the stuff I read.

    You also mention on this site the question of negativity. Well, I would suggest that CAM practitioners appear to be as keen to medicalise everything and everyone (often dressed up as ‘wellness’) as big pharma. Is that so positive?

    When CAM people come down off their high horses and really engage in rational and logical arguments, then we’ll have a starting point. Unfortuantely that day is not here yet.

  • Speechless – I know the feeling Dr Aust.

  • *Applauds John Hooper and Lindy*

    Agree with DC about calling yourself a “professional”. As I recall from the movies, every gangster or crook likes to tell people they are “a professional”, usually as a form of self-justification.

    Homeopaths certainly think they constitute a profession. As, presumably, do astrologers. That doesn’t mean I have to take them as seriously as they take themselves.

  • PS I would be delighted for homeopaths to call themselves “professional faith healers”. It would have the virtue of being an entirely accurate description.

  • Lindy

    1) Indigo Children are fractious and troublesome little brats whose inept parents are disguising a lack of proper parenting skills with some new age mumbo jumbo about how creative, wondrous and independent of mind their hooligan offspring are.

    2) Astrology – (falls of chair with maniacal cackle and contemplates suicide). I didn’t get that far on Mad Marys website. There is a limit to how far you can immerse yourself in the realm of the irrational.

    An astrologista once told me that my structural facial resemblance to my mother was due to me being born on her birthday and sharing her Cancerian features (not that that comment did my mother any favours – but it is sort of true in terms of facial topology).

    And there was me thinking it had something to do with that science stuff involving genetics, heredity, DNA and so forth and may well have been connected with the fact that SHE WAS MY MOTHER.

    The logical outcome of this hokum is that there would only be 365 types of person (OK 1 more in leap years). I am sure there are more.

    And in any case this should have applied to all of the babies born on the same day and my mother said I was easily the best looking baby in the maternity ward !

    There was a great cartoon in Punch circa 1925 which claimed a great leap forward in the “science” of astrology when all Librans in the world were run over by egg vans on the same day.

    As you probably know, us Cancerians are cynical bastards.

  • Perhaps 30C Helvetia will be used as a remedy for impotence.
    Dylan Thomas – Under Milk Wood: Captain Cat, “Lie down, lie easy. Let me shipwreck in your thighs”

  • I shall do my best to answer the questions you have asked but don’t expect me to have all the answers. I’m the lone speaker here.
    Mr Colquhoun:
    I’m a member of the Society of Homeopaths. No members from our organisation made any recommendations about malaria. You should know this if you’d done your research.
    http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/whats-new/patientinfo.aspx
    I’ve never treated small-pox, diptheria or rabies. Have you? Maybe the vice president you mention has, and therefore is allowed to make the statements he has. I don’t see how UK Homeopaths have to be bunched together with every other Homeopath that’s ever been born or practices.

    We have laws here in the UK that make it illegal to ‘claim’ to cure any disease and I’m well aware of them.So are you. I think you should direct that comment to the gentleman concerned.
    My mind and the minds of my clients are not poisoned. What a terribly OTT word to use. Makes me wonder sometimes why you get so cross about our existence. Until the advent of the Internet, you never even knew Homeopaths existed…..now you can surf for seconds at a time, land on their pages, draw conclusions….and surf away…and report back to your mates totally inaccurate information, dressed up as ‘Mr-Angry-from-Leeds-sorts-those-wacky-Homeopaths-out’.

    I don’t need to read reams of medical data and medical papers to convince me that Homeopathy and Homeopathic remedies work. My experience of Homeopathy was very modest, from a shop bought product, that did what it said on the tin.
    http://www.maryenglish.co.uk/aboutme.html
    You can’t disprove Homeopathy’s results anymore than I can ‘prove’ to you that it works. I works for me and my patients, and I’m happy with that.
    I don’t work for a large institution and large amounts of money aren’t riding on my ability to be able to convince you about Homeopathy because, you obviously have never used it…. don’t want to ….but now you’ve take it upon yourself to ‘prevent others from being poisoned’.
    Who are you to do that?
    Surely it should be up to the clients themselves to make those judgements.
    We’re not working with you in the NHS, we’re private. My salary doesn’t have to be justified, only to the Tax man. However some of our members do work in NHS practice and in fact I work within a charity providing Homeopathy to drug addicts, mental health patients and alcoholics. I certainly wouldn’t be allowed to practice with this client group if what I did was a load of bunkum.
    The Society has worked hard over the years to ensure members ARE properly trained/insured, up-to-date, professionally supervised etc etc. We have to complete Continuing Professional Development as part of our membership, and that has to be updated.
    I’m not sat in my office practicing in a void. I work with other Homeopaths, nurses, key workers, therapists, mental health nurses and Dr’s. In fact a number of regular Dr’s that use Homeopathy…and they’re not mad either.

    It’s very easy to mock something and make it look bad…its even easier to cut something down to size with big announcements.
    There IS research into Homeopathy.http://www.homeopathyresearchinstitute.org/
    You keep talking as if it doesn’t happen.
    Its not funded by large institutions….and most PCT’s won’t even allow Homeopathic research to take place, so how can we even get to your place of being ‘morally, intellectually and scientifically of merit’ if the medical deciders, have been told we’re all crackpots, and don’t allow us to even write a protocol,get a sponser or gain favourable ethics opinion and apply for R&D approval?…. If we’re not allowed to do the research we would like, how can we have all those results you talk about?

    A lot of our research has been funded out of our own pockets, like my provings. But please stop talking as if my provings and the work I do is representative of the whole of the Homeopathic community and is intended to be used by the masses and available on prescription from Boots.

    Its only available to you because I’ve got a website and I can write HTML. Its only there because I enjoy what I do.
    I like my clients, I like the way Homeopathy works, I enjoy the work I do with my Homeopathic mates and I’m sure that’s no different to you.
    Its just that you don’t understand anything about us and making harsh comments on our mental health ain’t PC.
    ……..let me put it another way.
    What if all Homeopaths were bonkers?
    …and all their clients?…
    and the clients were happy and the Homeopaths were happy?
    Who are you to start jumping up and down and choking on your breakfast cereal when we are all fine with how things are? We’re not forcing our ideas down anyone’s throats and as far as I am aware.

    There are no laws to say that what we do it illegal, dangerous or life limiting…its also non-addictive.
    Mr Hooper:
    In answer to the question about the uses of Helvetia. It’s prescribed for people who are ‘stuck’ and has been used to help writers with writers block, artists who have lost their inspiration, students who couldn’t complete their studies…to name just a few cases.

    I’m not going to answer any questions about Astrology as I don’t combine the two when I’m working as a Homeopath. Its the other way round. If a client comes for Astrology I might use a Homeopathic remedy to help them.
    We’re from different worlds.
    You can carry on being cross and getting riled-up about the idiocy and stupidity and ignorance….and I’ll stay in mine and be very contented with my life….and if you want to learn about what we do, you’re very welcome to visit the detox clinic and ask the patients why they like Homeopathic treatment so much.

    p.s. I am perfectly able to engage in rational and logical arguments. However, I come from a creative background, (with a Dad who had a degree in chemistry and worked for 30 years for Glaxo in senior management) of artists, writers and musicians so tend to lean more towards the poetical and wordy.

  • As an exercise, try replacing each use of “Homeopathy” in VeryScaryMary’s post with the word “Religion” or “Religious people”. Or “Mystical Healing” and “Mystical Healers”.

    Say it with me: BELIEF system. Not evidence: belief.

    As I have noted many times before, and as many conventional doctors who use homeopathy would admit privately, homeopathy is a kind of “stealth talking therapy”. The remedies are inert, or perhpas “symbolic” if you prefer. It is talking therapy with a sympathetic listener, wrapped up in a layer of mystical doubletalk/ doublethink. This mysticism is appealing to some people, based on their particular beliefs about health and about the world.

    Which is fine – as long as you can see it for what it is.

    – which most homeopaths self-evidently can’t.

    While I have no objection to nonsense between consenting adults, their believing in it it doesn’t make it any less nonsense. If you admit it is about belief, then fair enough, believe what you want. But please don’t keep telling us “I know it works” and implying this has any basis in evidence. It’s basis is belief, and evidence and belief are distinct.

  • “No members from our organisation made any recommendations about malaria.”

    The Magic Watergate Scandal

    http://web.archive.org/web/20070523215824/www.thehomeopath.org.uk/overseastravel.html

    “I come from a creative background”

    Evidently.

  • I just noticed that John Hooper (comment #28) cited my comment about “Robert Koch – Medical genius. Samuel Hahnemann -Medical dim-wit”

    I’ll stick with the first bit, but a bit later, when I’d checked some dates, I decided that I’d been a bit harsh on Hahnemann. He did have the sense to notice that blood letting was killing people, More particularly, he was also aware that dilution could not go on for ever. It is not his fault that the numerical value of Avogadro’s number was not discovered until 22 years after he died. If he had known that number we might have been spared a lot of fantasy. See Hahnemann would have thought modern homeopaths were barmy

  • If he had “proved” arsenic first rather than chinchona and before he discovered dilution we would have been spared ALL of this nonsense

  • By Friday evenings I am often getting my mooming blords wuddled. I can also get the the wrong around way. it is because I am a bit tired.

    Mary, I don’t find your arguments truly logcial and rational. Also I am rather puzzled by your assertion that

    “I’m not going to answer any questions about Astrology as I don’t combine the two when I’m working as a Homeopath. Its the other way round. If a client comes for Astrology I might use a Homeopathic remedy to help them”.

    On your website you say,
    “As this boy had been brought to me for homeopathic treatment I didn’t automatically draw up his Birthchart, but after his second visit something about him made me ask his birthtime and I looked at his chart.” That sounds as if it was the other way round after all, at least on that occasion.

    I don’t see why you don’t want to answer questions about astrology, since at the beginning of response 23 above, you ask why we don’t ask you questions.

    Where is your evidence that other people hadn’t heard of homeopathy until they had internet access? You certainly can’t apply that to me and I doubt it applies to others commenting here and elsewhere. it is also illogical in relation to the fact that homeopathy has been in action for so long.

    Intellectual dialogue and discussion can be really interesting. For example placebo is a fascinating phenomenon, so there is a lot of scope for discussion of this in relation to homeopathy as well as mainstream medicine. Such discussion/debate is much more productive than the mantra of ‘you don’t understand us’ or ‘you can’t prove it doesn’t work’. What a shame you seem not to recognise this.

  • Sorry, but I really cannot let this arrant nonsense go. So for the sake of completeness and paragraph by paragraph:

    Paragraph 2 is a lie.

    Paragraph 3 is a non sequitir. Like you and your fellow quack vendors I have no medical training or knowledge but at least I do not pretend to have some phantom panacea based on unidentifiable magic. I have repeatedly said I am not medically qualified so would never have cause to treat any of those illnesses. Nor indeed would I have any need to do so as smallpox and diphtheria were eradicated by the science based vaccinations quacks like you advise against. Rabies is curable but not by HY quackery (please tell me YOU would rely on HY and HY only if you ever got bitten by a rabid dog). All homeopaths have to be bunched together or else you make an even bigger mockery of your quackery. It is either a working form of medicine with some theoretical validation (as you claim) or it is a collection of isolated quackeries. The latter suggests itself.

    Paragraph 4: the law bit is true. The rest is a lie.

    Paragraph 5: I think your minds are poisoned, by greed and stupidity if nothing else. At least your bodies and those of your CLIENTS (your word) are unlikely to be so, given the nonsense you peddle as medicine. I knew HY quacks existed in the 1960s which slightly predates the Internet. I can even date it as I realised HY was quackery at the same time I realised Erik von Daniken was a fraudulent shyster (so circa 1968 then).

    Paragraph 6: It is fairly obvious you have never read ANY medical paper let alone reams of the stuff. Your experience was of a self limiting illness. How did you self diagnose what quack potion to take – I thought you were not supposed to just buy HY quackery off the shelf. Surely it needs a whole body check up (or a bio-dynamic holistic investigation or some such nonsense). As I said before, how do HY salespeople identify the cause of a headache and diagnose (say) the difference between needing glasses and a brain tumour.

    Paragraph 7: I agree that you usually cannot prove a negative (like the existence of trolls or the flying spaghetti monster, PBUH, although I am steadily accumulating evidence in the case of trolls). In this case I am prepared to void that tenet because the onus of proof is on you not me. Do you not understand how irrational this is – it is like me saying that dandelions cause lung cancer and you just prove they don’t. There is no evidence that HY works. Tell me one significant (or indeed totally inconsequential) illness eradicated by HY quackery. Just one will do.

    Paragraph 8: Meaningless comment. But if you want an answer (and Professor Colquhoun can more than adequately defend himself – he doesn’t need me) he is a Professor of Pharmacology from UCL not the Grand Panjandrum of Mystical Fairy Dust from the University of Woo.

    Paragraph 9: How on earth can it be up to a patient (other than a medically qualified one) to make a judgement as to their treatment. I might just as well try to prescribe Talisker for my smashed up knee (although to be fair I actually have).

    Paragraph 10: Of course you don’t work in the NHS. Very few NHS practitioners would touch your quackery with a bargepole.

    Paragraph 11: This is mostly fabrication, fiction and self serving cant. You cannot possibly be properly trained in HY any more than you can be trained in the taxonomy of goblins, elves and fairies. Because it is quackery. HY quacks are not supervised – they are free to make the most outrageous claims imaginable. Please let me know of one viral or bacterial illness which can be cured by HY quackery.

    Paragraph 12: I have no doubt you work with other Homeopaths- birds of a feather and all that. I pretty much doubt the rest. Maybe the odd GP tosses a fractious patient a HY bone as he loses patience with their constant whinging and non-complaints (which I actually know to be the case with old people and rheumatism/arthritis pain).

    Paragraph 13: Oh how right you are woman. It really is “very easy to mock something and make it look bad” especially when it is a complete and utter nonsense like the mendacious tosh you practice. I would like to hear the “big announcements” that HY (or indeed any other) quackery has demonstrably cured, eradicated or even had a palliative effect on some illness. You have had two centuries to make announcements – where are they ?

    Paragraph 14: Wrong. Well sort of. There may be research into HY quackery by self-deluded HY quacks but it ain’t ever proven anything, not ever and never will. I don’t claim it never happens – I merely claim it is rubbish research preaching to the converted (by rubbish I mean poorly formulated, small samples, no controls, recitation of puerile anecdotal evidence, sloppy experiments, bias and blatant fraud – to name but a few issues).

    Paragraph 15: Large “institutions” like pharmcos have crawled all over HY quackery, chewed it up and spat it out – and if they cannot make a buck out of it then it must be worthless beyond description. Hardly surprising that “PCT’s won’t even allow Homeopathic research to take place” – they seem strangely biased towards medicine rather than quackery. The rest of the paragraph is the usual plaintive wail of the victim – “if only this, if only that”.

    Paragraph 16: Your “provings” are arrant nonsense. If they are not “representative of the whole of the Homeopathic community” then what are they for. I thought proving was standard stuff for HY quacks (please don’t bother correcting me if I am wrong as my life is too short for any quack internecine struggle between big enders and little enders).

    Paragraph 17: Not sure I understand this meaningless drivel.

    Paragraph 18: If you genuinely liked your clients you would tell them to go and see a doctor. I understand a lot about you and your quack bedfellows. I am not yet wholly convinced that all HY quacks are bonkers but I am not far away from that conclusion. Either bonkers, utterly self deluded or mendacious charlatans.

    (I lost the paragraph numbering here because your punctuation is a sloppy as your quackery).

    And so to me.

    Para 1: This is insanity. If you believe that you are genuinely bonkers. If you know it to be false then you are a charlatan and a huckster. If it works then I am absolutely convinced that everyone who posts to this site would be extremely keen to understand how. Kindly enlighten us as to how essence of shipwreck (presumably with no trace of shipwreck actually in it) unleashes this creative cornucopia. Or did you just cherry pick a few “blockage” related bits from the “proving” (surely one of life’s great misnomers – thus the quotation marks) to make a few bob. (To be honest if you did a Frank Zappa and said you were only in it for the money I might actually have more respect for you – no, maybe not)

    Para 2: Sorry to say but further evidence of bonkersdom. If some poor deluded mug comes to you for astrology why on earth would you need to use a homeopathic remedy on them. The logic of this defeats me. It smacks of ambulance chasing. Unless of course your fairy dust pills can cure delusion. Ah, but I was forgetting the magic word CLIENT and the commercial relationship commensurate with that. We are indeed from different worlds. Mine is called Earth so what colour is the sky on yours.

    Para 3: I am cross because you are a demonstrable fraud shystering money out of the gullible. Apologies but I do get “riled-up about the idiocy and stupidity and ignorance” you demonstrate and you are welcome “to stay in it”. Thank you for the invitation to the “detox clinic… to … ask the patients why they like Homeopathic treatment so much”. I am not sure I would have a great deal of faith in their views in a detox clinic.

    Para 4: I am delighted to note that you are “perfectly able to engage in rational and logical arguments”. You go first. I can fully understand your “creative background” – you share it with the rest of your quack community.

    Lindy – I told you it wasn’t a piss take !

  • The above is a response to the drivel in whinge 34 from Mary. I should have referenced it.

  • I’m sorry but you still haven’t explained why you get so bothered about Homeopaths and Homeopathy.

    My point about the Internet is true. Until its advent you had no idea what we did, or the things we thought about or any of our practices. The Internet is available for all.

    I can’t put a filter on my website only allowing ‘supporters’ to surf and you don’t have to believe in Homeopathy for it to work, so you can ditch the comments about belief. I don’t see many kids or babies wondering about belief….or dogs or cats for that matter.

    We know that the body will heal itself and Hahnemann’s point was you only need a small amount of help to do that:
    “The highest ideal of cure is the rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health; that is, the lifting and annihilation of the disease in its entire extent in the shortest, most reliable, and least disadvantageous way, according to clearly realisable principles.”

    and….
    “The smallest dose of a medicine dynamised in the best manner (where-in, after committed calculation, only so little material can be found that its smallness cannot be thought of or grasped, even by the best mathematical brain) gives out, in the appropriate disease case, more curative energy by far than large doses of the same medicinal substance.”

    We know the body will always aim for Homeostasis, we know the body with an acute ailment will get better in 3 days or 72 hours but Homeopathic remedies help it get better faster, without slowing it down with drugs like NightNurse or Lemsip.

    Conventional medicine only uses drugs or surgery. It hasn’t advanced from that place. And clients want more than that. They want to be listened to, have their pains and agony acknowledged, their fears reassured, their disease explained and ‘fixed’ as easily as possible with the minimum amount of interference.

    So, why then, do you get so upset about us? Why the hand wringing and name calling and bending of facts?

    We’re not out to deceive people anymore than you are, and if our methods are inexplicable, in your terms, don’t use our methodology or remedies. Look away…

    This country is big enough, with enough sick people for everyone to be occupied helping those people out.
    We don’t need to battle about how dilute the remedies are, or whether or not we can treat rabies or AIDs.

    In fact I’ve treated clients with AIDS, Cancer, Brights Disease and Psychosis (with their GP’s knowledge) and more common complaints such as psoriasis or eczema or asthma….I know about the remedies I use, I take an in-depth case, I manage my cases carefully and with respect and if I think my client needs ‘conventional’ medicine or surgery, I’ll send them off to their Dr’s as any competant alternative/complementary practitioner would.

    Stop talking about us as if we are irresponsible and mindless. Homeopathy and Homeopaths are thoughtful and sincere.

    …and Homeopathy isn’t ‘just’ placebo, I agree that the body’s ability to heal is immense and the practitioners training and levels of empathy make an enormous difference…but that doesn’t explain how the Aconite I gave my wheezing son stopped the wheeze so swiftly.
    If you’re that bothered about research, why don’t you conduct some yourself?

  • I am almost lost for words (but not completely).

    Mary – Can I ask you a simple question which genuinely interests me. I ask it in a spirit of open-mindedness and open enquiry.

    You said that you had (and I quote verbatim from your post so hopefully I am not traducing, misrepresenting nor twisting your words) “treated clients with AIDS”.

    Could I seek clarity on this statement please.

    What do you mean when you use the word “treated”. Do you mean “cured” – as most people would understand the word – so the removal of not only the symptoms but the underlying cause of those symptoms leaving your CLIENT free of AIDS and any associated infections, carcinomas etc.

    No clever word tricks here. Everyone recognises “cured” means “had something/don’t have it now”.

    “Treated” can also be taken to mean “cured” as in “I was treated for bronchitis” i.e I had a bacterial infection and now it (and the symptoms) have gone.

    Could you tell l us how you have treated or cured AIDS.

    The world (well, OK me) waits agog.

    Best wishes,
    John

  • Mary

    A considered response to your last posting.

    1) We get bothered about HY because it is a medical fraud. HY vendors are either gullible fools who are easily misled or are fraudsters.

    2) Your point about the Internet is nonsense. The web is an easy mechanism for disseminating information – that is all. It may come as a surprise but pre Berners-Lee there were books, magazines, journals, discussions, lectures, popular media and so forth. All of these disseminated information, and oddly enough still do.

    3) You shouldn’t have to believe in any medicine for it to work. Antibiotics kill bacteria. They are fairly neutral with respect to what people believe in. They will ALWAYS kill bacteria (whether in black or white, moslem or jew, aetheist or religionist) and fail to discriminate.

    4) Using HY on babies or pets should merit a custodial sentence.

    5) Only in certain circumstances can the body can heal itself (colds/burns etc are a prime example). No body has healed itself from AIDS or advanced cancer. (And when you tell me they have I will tell you it was misdiagnosis or cure by biopsy).

    6) What does the “smallest dose of a medicine dynamised in the best manner” manner mean. Is this “potentised”. What perversion of physics and chemistry allows less of something to emit more “energy” (I use the word lightly) than more of it.

    7) How does the body with an acute ailment … get better in 3 days”. Cancer ? AIDS ? Rheumatism ? Name an acute ailment that gets better in 3 days. Name an acute ailment that responds to NightNurse or Lemsip. You live in another world.

    8) Conventional medicine “mainly” not “only” uses drugs or surgery. To say it hasn’t advanced from that place is utter tosh.

    9) Your CLIENTS (I repeat – doctors have patients) probably do want more than that. They probably do “want to be listened to, have their pains and agony acknowledged, their fears reassured, their disease explained and ‘fixed’ as easily as possible with the minimum amount of interference”. You fail to explain how you diagnose and fix their illnesses. Until such time as you can demonstrate the basis and efficacy of HY you are indeed a faith healer and should be labelled accordingly.

    10) Your methods are inexplicable in any terms. You do not understand them and they do not work. Why should I “look away” when you put peoples lives at risk.

    11) You said “This country is big enough, with enough sick people for everyone to be occupied helping those people out”. A sort of point but the genuinely sick are not helped out by you.

    12) To be honest you do need to battle about whether you can treat rabies or AIDs. Because you claim to be able to do so in the next paragraph.

    13) So you claim to have treated clients with AIDS and cancer:
    – How did you diagnose these illnesses
    – How did you cure them
    – what was your success rate and how did this compare to your control group
    – were your clients also on conventional proper medicine at the time you treated them and how did you control for retrovirals etc

    14) You are irresponsible – merely being “thoughtful and sincere” does not cure AIDS or cancer.

    15) And your final point is the last refuge of the quackery scoundrel. It is not up to me to research your quackery – it is up to your community of charlatans to research it and demonstrate that it has a valid basis. Then it would become medicine and not alternative quackery.

    Your comment is facile and irrelevant. Would you fly in an aeroplane if Boeing or Airbus said “we think it will be OK but best if you test it yourself first”.

    You say you can “treat” AIDS. This might persuade some gullible fool to forgo proper medical treatment and rely on your woo. That is the real disgrace of you and your ilk.

  • 8) if this came out as a smiley face it was meant to be ( 8 )

  • “Conventional medicine only uses drugs or surgery” [VSM]

    Not true. Take, for example, severe food allergy: accurate diagnosis and avoidance of the allergen are the mainstays of conventional treatment. Rescue medication (epinephrine) must of course be prescribed but the aim is to manage the condition so as not to have to use it.

    And, in this context of food allergy, the statement that conventional medicine is not advancing is not accurate. Progess is slow, it’s a complex area but there are now hints beginning to come through from the research that, for some types of FA, oral desensitisation might become possible.

  • Comment 42:
    “My point about the Internet is true. Until its advent you had no idea what we did, or the things we thought about or any of our practices”.

    Will you please stop making assumptions about what people did or did not know before the advent of the internet. You have no evidence of this …. oh on second thoughts I should realise that evidence is an alien concept to you.

    I see you have chosen to ignore the contradiction that you have demonstrated between your assertion about mixing your two types of alternative stuff (see my response no.39). You say one thing here and another on your own website. This is despite the fact that I referred to tiredness on a Friday evening, thus giving you an option for a reasonable get-out.

    Rreasons for mistrust of homeopathy (and other CAM ‘therapies’) relate to its lack of rigour, the lack of evidence and the fact that the medicines contain nothing. Unless you explain all this to your clients, you are not being honest with them. If people want to pay for placebo medicines, that is fine, as long as they are not fooled by garbage about ‘more is less’.

    By the way, there is a question I would like answered, how do you make dilutions of water? (You mention Bath Spa water on your list of provings). Surely Hahnemann diluted and succussed all his substances before proving them – and before you leap in with rubbish about the internet, I did know about this a great many years ago.

    I would love some rational answers, given calmly and without the defensive tone you display.

  • veryscarymary

    You really should check your facts a bit more carefully. Your comments about the internet are simply nonsense. Any educated person was aware of homeopathy in the 50s and 60s. They just thought of it as a long-defunct myth. My first job, when I was 18, was as an apprentice in Timothy White’s & Taylor’s Homeopathic Chemists in Grange Road, Birkenhead. It’s true that we did very little homeopathic business, because in those more rational times, homeopathy was almost dead. Only once did I make up a homeopathic dilution with my own hands, My manager regarded it, as any reasonable person would, as a bit of a joke, and I regret to say that the tubes may not have had strictly correct magic banging, but the customer appeared to be quite happy with my efforts,

    The revival of homeopathy coincided with the Reagan-Thatcher-Khomeini age of delusional thinking, which was so ably carried on, and amplified in the Bush-Blair age of delusional thinking.

    That age of endarkenment may now be coming to an end. The worst US president in history will soon be gone. Welcome back to the world. Admittedly we’ll have to see what happens now, I keep getting an uncomfortable feeling that the ecstasy that has greeted Obama is eerily like that which greeted Blair in 1997, and he turned out to be one of the worst delusional thinkers ever. His place in history will be as the man who colluded in a war that has killed almost 100 000 people, on the basis of things that were not true.

    It was very disappointing to hear you repeat the usual weasel words “You only need a small amount of help”. It is not a “very small amount”. It is zero amount, in most cases. If you were to sell strawberry jam that contained no trace of strawberries, you would be in court, and rightly so. But because of bizarre loopholes in the law, you can get away with selling arnica pills that contain no trace of arnica.

    In my book, that is just plain old fraud. That is why I get cross about it.

  • Potentially Invalid Claim For Homeopathy?

    From: John Hooper (johnhooper@hotmail.co.uk)
    Sent: 08 November 2008 22:30:35
    To: pamela_stevens@homeopathy-soh.org
    Re: Potentially Invalid Claim Made For Homeopathy

    Dear Ms Stevens

    I am writing to you in connection with recent correspondence which has taken place on an open website, one which is available to any member of the public.

    One of your members has stated categorically that she is able to treat AIDS and cancer, amongst other illnesses.

    I understand this is an infraction of the Society’s guidelines and that the society in no way endorses Homeopaths who claim to treat or cure AIDS or cancer.

    I know you will be keen to look at this issue and get back to me in three days (as you quite clearly and admirably state on your website).

    The Homeopath is Mary English. Her web presence may be found at: http :// http://www.maryenglish.co.uk/aboutme.html

    The very specific claims to cure (inter alia) AIDS and cancer may be found at: http: // dcscience.net /?p=282

    I believe that Homeopaths making unfounded claims of this nature bring the entire profession into disrepute.

    I would be grateful if you would be kind enough to let me know how you might progress this matter within the charter of the Society.

    Yours Sincerely,
    John Hooper

    Email: johnhooper@hotmail.co.uk

  • http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page10326

    Interviewer:

    I want to change tack slightly now. The world is now kind of very reliant on science, not just for discovering the universe but also in terms of culture, culture is shaped by scientific findings and as you say our economies are as well. So at a time when science is revealing more about us, about the universe, about human nature, the way we work, what makes us sick, what makes us well again, these are expressions of the power of rational thought, but we seem more and more to be moving away from rational thought in certain areas, whether it is using alternative medicines or fundamentalist religious beliefs. I wonder if you see any kind of a shift in this direction and whether you know what is going on.

    Prime Minister:

    Frankly I don’t. I think that most people today have a rational view about science and my advice to the scientific community would be you know fight the battles you need to fight. I wouldn’t bother fighting a great battle over homeopathy, I mean there are people who use it, people who don’t use it, it is not going to determine the future of the world frankly. What will determine the future of the world however is the scientific community explaining for example the science of genetics and how it develops, or the issue to do with climate change and so on, and I think in these regards I think most people are prepared to be very rational about it. I think however that there is a dimension that concerns and frightens scientists, never mind people, because as the science progresses there are so many possibilities. As I say I start from not merely admitting my ignorance but protesting it, but you know when I was over in California recently I was seeing some of how genetics will develop in the future and it is immensely exciting, but it also will raise in time a lot of issues about how much you want to control through the science of genetics, how we look, how we are, how we live.
    I rest my case.

  • Mary I suggest you follow the link
    http://www.darwinwars.com/lunatic/liars/layfield.html. which DC mentions above, in particular the the paragraph, ‘Science in schools’ to see what Tony Blair defended in his support for Emmanuel College.
    Also Blair always seemed to be a master of adapting to whoever was interviewing him.

  • Yes – thought I remember DC writing something about the Blessed Blair and his thoughts on science at the time of the New Scientist interview – see DC’s old blog.

    Interesting that it was (only) almost exactly two years ago… it seems a lot longer in many ways.

    It was always clear that the Sainted Tony viewed Alternative Medicine as a “consumer choice” issue, and also that he was motivated by the desire to foster commerce in the Alt.Med area. But he always studiously avoided the wider dimension of reality vs. non-reality, or evidence vs. belief if you prefer -and this was true even when discussing Alt.Med in the NHS context. Not that his avoidance of the issue was any great surprise.

  • Mary
    It does seem very odd that you think that I’ll be impressed by your citation of Tony Blair in this context.

    He suffered from delusions that were far more important than homeopathy. His delusions about non-existent WMD resulted in the deaths of around 100000 people. He deluded himself into thinking that segregated faith schools are a good way of promoting harmony.

  • It is good to see veryscarymary out debating, but it just shows how muddled homeopaths are. There are a few points that I cannot really go by without commenting.

    Mary said – “I’m a member of the Society of Homeopaths. No members from our organisation made any recommendations about malaria. You should know this if you’d done your research.”

    This is quite simply a lie and the Society of Homeopaths lied about this too. I have documented the evidence for this here:

    The Society of Homeopaths: Truth Matters

    The BBC and SaS named a Fellow of the Society who was caught out. The Society did nothing and then denied having the evidence. Shameful. I have the emails to prove they did.

    It rather flies in the face of homeopaths being “thoughtful and sincere”. Oh, and while we are talking of thoughtful and sincere, I did write briefly about veryscarymary here:

    Should the NHS pay for Hyena Saliva?

    Mary’s thoughtful and sincere response was to email me and threaten me with legal action unless I removed the post immediately. I thoughtfully and sincerely declined.

  • I know it can be a bit tiresome for people like LCN and DC to have to permanently mount a defence against the forces of darkness.

    However, I just realised that the antidote to this tiresomeness exists within the world of woo.

    I found three sites today which absolutely creased me up. One is some crackpot with 50 absolutely cast-iron unassailable facts about homewhatsit: http://www.naturalnews.com/024512.html

    I know life is short and woo is long but if this does not make you laugh then I would be very surprised.

    The other site is a list of homeothingy “cures” which is even funnier (http://www.ainsworths.com/AinsworthsRemedyList.txt) and includes:
    – “Age” – What AGE – 0-110 range available here.
    – “Amritsar Sahib” – which one. There must be several million of them. Did they kill the poor bastard to prove him.
    – “Aqua Pura”. Now I might have got this wrong but surely that is “pure water” – so these crackbrained loons are diluting water !. Amazing.
    – “Berlin Wall” (stops you feeling oppressed. Now is that the upright wall or the broken down wall ? )

    I now find that I cannot leave the list of woo medicines alone. I feel as if I have fallen into a huge box of chocolates, every one of which is an absolute delight. Every click down the page reveals even more risible rubbish for me to revel in (map, the colour orange, plutonium (FFS) peregrine falcon, Rosedale (the town ???) “Sacred Lake (After Cyclone)”, “Skye Terrier Liver Disease”, X-Rays, and lots more waters (spring, tap etc). I cannot drag myself away from this sea of irrationality.

    I see they have woo quackery based on Benzedrine, cocaine, cannabis, morphine, rohypnol and valium. Surely dishing these out to “provers” is a criminal offence as they are all controlled substances. Even possession of some of them is a criminal offence so how did they bang and shake the mixture. (or did they start off with nothing).

    And all that nonsense is just the stuff I can identify. They give most things spurious or faux Latin names – presumably to disguise the true nature of the material. You would need trustworthy friends to try out “Mucus – Nasal” on them.

    I note that with precious materials (gold, silver, diamond) you can get up to 10M dilutions. Presumably this stops people reverse engineering the medicine to extract the valuables (like you would get rich on that !).

    And the crème de la crème, ne plus ultra pinnacle of scientific endeavour has to be the proving of antimatter (http://homeopathy.healthspace.eu/mm/anti-matter.php). Apparently it is an imponderable – errr well yes it probably is.

    If VSM would like to enlighten me as to this tosh then I am all ears (I probably won’t need what’s between them).

  • For an even bigger laugh the self referential document the first item above is based on can be found at:

    http://www.naturalnews.com/024670.html

    This is the most ridiculous, unscrupulous piece of arrant nonsense I have seen since Mary proved a shipwreck (and she only had 7 “provers” – the crackpot who wrote the above article said proving uses 50+ “provers” so Mary is not even following the dictates of her quackery).

  • JH, your notion of a box of chocolates brings to mind the vile and hilarious Monty Python sketch about chocs containing crunchy frog: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy6uLfermPU
    On the Nature News list I particularly like the idea of (fact 47) ‘jump-starting the body’. Were we not told homeop is all so wonderfully gentle? And then, towards the end of the list, there is the sycophantic bit about famous people and royals, presumably to impress us and to convince us that it really works blah blah.
    On the remedy front I am not sure who wins the lunacy competition, Ainsworths or Helios. http://www.helios.co.uk/cgi-bin/store.cgi?action=list_remedies
    You can have mastitis or mammary gland – a bit of ‘tit for tat’ do you suppose? (Groan -so sorry). But more seriously you can have various poisons, such as malathion, datura, dioxin and drugs like reserpine or roof insulation, or can be Pythonesque and have parrot droppings (with feathers), rat fur and hamster hair. You can have polyvalent Bach, handy for musicians I guess.

    OBH, more nonsense from the next link. If the medicine is supposed to treat the whole person, why does the med need to relate to the symptoms? Surely the symptoms arise in a particular area? Or do people have headaches in their toes, or toothache in their hips or – no I won’t go on. It is just another thing that cannot make sense and I don’t believe they even think about what they are saying. And what the blazes is the relevance of this load of cobblers?
    ’Do we leave our sore throat on the desk of the physician as we leave the surgery? Or our arthritic knee behind?’
    On a more serious note, can someone explain a) how these people get hold of all these strange substances in order to dilute them etc., b) how they handle them without getting very ill; c) if, as homs claim, there is something left of the actual drugs (e.g. amiodarone, a pretty serious one) they claim to be using, how come they can be dished out by unqualified doctors and d)if they are not using the items on their lists, should we not be making strong complaints under the sale of goods act?

  • Indeed.

    As if anything His Righteous Homeopathness Prince Charlatan says has any validity.

    Ditto – Axl Rose – just another pill to him
    Ditto – David Beckham – well known for his science
    Ditto – most of the others. Don’t know who half of them are.

    They might all be Jehovahs Witnesses for all I know but I wouldn’t let my daughters bleed to death because they are morons.

  • This is a post from the other night that was deleted accidently by Dr Colquhoun as he tried to defend himself against someone who is not mature enough to stand their ground and discuss their ideas with people who disagree with them:

    ‘I really enjoyed this thread. So thanks, all.

    I have offered many times on other forums to stand in a test with homeopathy defenders, and I await the day that one of them takes me up on it. When I was young, I lived abroad, so I had vaccinations that are not commonly given to the general populace. I also had a smallpox vaccination. I have again and again challenged homeopaths to do a test with me: I have been vaccinated for Smallpox. If you have not, would you be willing to take homeopathic nosodes and be exposed to Variola to compare the result of exposure with my vaccination? I would be interested to see the results.

    As a point of conversation, no homeopath has ever taken me up on this offer. And in case you ask, there’s no way I would take plant medicines for anything like that. That’s what orthodox medicine is for. Natch.

    I recently horrified one of my colleagues by speaking out for vaccination as one of the great successes of modern medicine. I honestly don’t know what century some people live in. (I’m sure plenty of vitriol and digging will follow this).

    Still, I was happy to see that Dr. Colquhoun has also talked to other practitioners of ‘woo’ who take a dim view of the lack of an evidence-base for practice. C’mon folks, give us a few million pounds to do research????? :-)’

    I would like to say to whoever is troubling Dr. Colquhoun; You should be ashamed of yourself. I am a practitioner of ‘Woo’, and I get plenty of grief from the intelligent, thoughtful people on this blog. This has never, ever led me to want to silence their voices or not consider carefully their very thoughtfully written posts. Debate and discussion have been the very bedrock of democracy since the time of Plato.

    Join the discussion or go away. Your malicious interference is not welcomed.

  • John, I took your hint and looked at the Ainsworths Remedy List for a laugh.

    They have 18,477 different remedies on the stock list (I used my computer to count them).

    My mind boggles at the administration and stock-keeping needed to keep the shelves stocked, sorted, and dusted.

    I would imagine that only practical way that they can manage an order for say “Air Cabin Pollution 6C” is to print the label, stick it on a little bottle, and put some water in the bottle.

  • The death knell for homeopathy would come if anyone from ainsworth/boiron etc ever blew the whistle and admitted that this is what they do – label identical bottles of pills.

  • @LCN

    Labelling is of critical importance , you know.
    (Couldn’t resist!)

  • It is not simply the number of items on Helios and Ainsworth’s list that is mind-boggling (see my comment no 58). Although I am not sure what form they think it is in, I simply do not believe that they stock plutonium. Or do they have a special room and all the protective gear? And what measures do they have in place to ensure that you don’t get rabbit fur instead of hamster hair?
    It just does not add up to any sort of practical reality, never mind the scientific one.

  • lecanardnoir,

    You are such a cynic, don’t you know that Helios take great care to produce their remedies to Hahnemanian standards?

    In 1994 after two years of research and development, Helios was proud to be the first British company to have its own high potency succussion machine. To make a high potency by hand would take weeks or months and is extremely labour intensive. In designing the Helios potentiser we have adhered as closely as possible to the human arm action of dilution and succussion “against a hard but elastic object” (aphorism 270 ) as per Hahnemann’s instructions. The machine repeatedly empties and refills in a single vial (Korsakov method) until the desired potency is reached, the whole process being computer-controlled to ensure stability and accuracy. A constant supply of highly purified water is used as the diluent. For our customers benefit, where a remedy has been made by our machine we have indicated this on the label with the initials “HK” (Helios Korsakov)

    http://www.helios.co.uk/technical.html

    I wonder where their highly purified water comes from, it is around £25/l for lab grade water, which is about twice as much as Helios charge for a remedy.

  • Well I tried the Ainsworth remedy finder to see how it would deal with my period pains.

    (http://www.ainsworths.com/arf/arf.aspx – feel free to have a go. It is more fun than an XBox 360)

    It prescribed the following:

    Natrum mur. 30c
    – the patient feels depressed, but does not want any sympathy or fuss, is sad and sensitive but tries not to show it

    Sepia 30c
    – The patient is very irritable and easily offended, may feel like kicking something

    Chamomilla 30c
    – This remedy . . . . . .. also helps when the patient is very irritable, the kind of irritability that is completely irrational and inconsolable. If either or both of these symptoms are present, this is a remedy to try.

    I trust David’s readers will excuse my irritability, depression and desire to kick something.

    “Hangover” is fun. Shows the depth of their research – “””was the hangover caused by drink”””. Errrrr let me think for a minute. No, it was milk. The cure is always Nux Vom anyway.

    YCMIU comment of the day (from some barmpot referenced above “””If people want to improve their looks, homeopathy does just that.””””. Got to get me some of that pixy dust – Angelina Jolie here I come.

  • I keep meaning to let the MHRA know about the Ainsworth remedy finder. I am sure they would have something to say about selling non licensed remedies against particular indications. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the MHRA do not want to go near homeopathy because it will be just too embarrassing for them.

    Oh, and @Lindy – of course they do not keep Plutonium. At best they might keep a vial of distilled water that has once upon a time been magically shaken in close proximity to some plutonium – or skaken while someone was dreaming of plutonium or something. And when that vial gets half full – they just top it up and magically shake it again. Most businesses would kill for this sort of supply chain logistics. When short of vital materials – turn on a tap and shake. And think of the benefits from not needing any quality control in production? What method could they use to ensure their production and supply process was meeting quality targets? I doubt any homeopathic pharmacies are ISO9001 certified? How could you document your quality procudeures?

  • As far as the ‘shaking’ is concerned, I think Charlie Brooker’s description at the end of his Guardian piece on Brain Gym earlier this year says it best.

    “….here’s an exciting new kinesiological exercise that should dramatically increase your self-awareness – and I’m giving it away free of charge. Ready? OK. Curl the fingers of your right hand inward…..”

    For the full acount go to
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/07/education

  • Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 4:22 PM
    To: foienquiries@ukaea.org.uk
    Subject: Potential Safety, Occupational health and Environmental Risk

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I wish to notify the AEA of what I regard as a potential Safety, Occupational Health and Environmental risk which has come to my notice. There may also be an additional risk element with respect to national security.

    It has come to my notice that an organisation is manufacturing and distributing medicinal compounds which are based on the following actinoids:

    – Uranium
    – Radium
    – Plutonium
    – Thallium
    – Thorium
    – Iridium

    There may be additional radioactive materials being used but the above list is clearly indicated on their public web site.

    My concerns relate to a number of specific areas, namely:

    – the acquisition of radioactive materials. I presume such materials are not freely available and are tightly regulated.

    – the licencing and training of staff involved in the preparation of pharmaceuticals containing radioactive materials. I assume there are strict regulations relating to this.

    – the preparation of pharmaceuticals containing radioactive materials and the ensuing disposal of waste materials from the manufacturing process. I understand the disposal of waste radioactive materials is highly controlled and regulated.

    – the storage and distribution of pharmaceutical products manufactured with and containing greater or lesser amounts of radioactive materials.

    – the potential impact on individuals using these products without appropriate information.

    Your web site admirably refers to your internal policies in the above areas as follows:

    “”In all our work, we apply rigorous health and safety standards to control hazards and limit risk to people or property.

    We ensure that our staff and contractors are properly trained to work safely and meet all legal and regulatory requirements.

    Consistent procedures, clear lines of responsibility and communication of best practice are central to our approach.

    The success of our safety management is shown by consistently low levels of safety events, employee accidents and radiation doses.””

    I am not sure these guidelines and policies are necessarily being followed by Ainsworths (of 36 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 8UF. Telephone 020 7935 5330. Website http://www.ainsworths.com) who list their radioactivity based pharmaceuticals at http://www.ainsworths.com/AinsworthsRemedyList.txt.

    I would appreciate your comments as to whether any breach of UK law exists here.

    Yours faithfully

  • Lindy/ JH

    You can try this http://abchomeopathy.com/go.php

  • Dear John (Oh Dear!),

    Although your letter was witty in the first instance, it gives homeopathic cures a legitimacy that they do not deserve. You and I know that ‘Dr. No’ 30C contains no ‘Dr No’. So iridium 30C contains no iridium. Complaining to Health and Safety about sugar pills is a bit of a nonsense, and is no way to challenge the illegitimacy of Homeopathy. With that kind of silly argument, you only make the homeopaths look reasonable, so I request you stop it. They look silly enough without your interference.

    Funny, but useless as an argument, I’m afraid.

  • Sorry NAWD, I disagree with your analysis of JH’s action. Writing to relevant authorities is a good way to try to reveal some of the rubbish that is peddled by homeopaths. Having discussions on websites like this is wonderful, but I feel the arguments need to be pushed out further and, far from giving the homs credit, should air some truths and the hope is that regulators will at least be forced to confront some anomalies.

  • Dear Lindy,

    Here we disagree. Writing the companies that make homeopathic cures or the government which legalises them only makes them seem, well, legal. If they are truly nonsense, ignore them. Give them no creedence. Otherwise you bring them into the realm of legitimacy.

    If they don’t work, it doesn’t matter does it?

    What ‘truths’ would you have the ‘homs’ admit to? Why even give them a venue for discussion? It’s nonsense, we know that. What are the anomalies you hope to clear up through discussion?

  • NAWD – you fail to grasp my point.

    These people profess a belief in what they do and the magic pills they produce.(although I fully recognise many woosters are only in it for the money).

    I know as welll as you do that a 30C dilution has eff all in it from the original. There will be even less of nothing in the 200C to 2M dilutions. I think some homeowhatsits might even know that (which rather seems to defeat the “like for like” basis of HY).

    My point is very simple. If there was a radioactive material present in the first place and it has been drastically diluted then what happened to the stuff that is not in the diluted “remedy”. It must have gone somewhere – down the sink possibly ?

    Has it contaminated the Helios Korsakov banging and shaking machine ?

    I ain’t a physicist but I am reasonably sure this nookular stuff doesn’t go away easily (at least not for a few million years).

    So if some charlatan used an actinoid to make a “remedy” where did the stuff go.

    My next step is in relation to the illegal drugs. Where did they get a variety of Class A drugs from to produce the “remedies” (I wish there was an italic button on here) – merely the possession of these substances is illegal and carries stiff penalties. I believe the penalties for distributing are even stiffer.

    Of course if there are no actinoids, illegal drugs or poisons in these sugar pills (or they were not prepared from a base of them in the first place) then they are defrauding their (probably mostly sincere and genuine) “patients” by making misleading and fraudulent claims.

    And when I know that I move on to Trading Standards to take appropriate action.

    The quacks and shysters cannot have it both ways. Your whinge at me tends to stick you in the birds of a feather category.

  • Nash – thanks for that. Fantastic site. As much fun as Ainsworths. That’s the rest of my morning wasted inventing spurious cures for spurious illnesses.

    All we need to do (and it is proven by that site) is give woosters phosphorus because it cures “Shameless Generalities of the Mind”.

    Again I prefix this with I might have got it wrong but isn’t one of the main points about homeodooda that you have a holistic consultation to treat the whole body and you dont just mix’n’match like you are choosing dolly mixtures.

    g

  • Sorry but I did say I was now an addict. You will have to forgive me as I am a substance victim (albeit without much substance).

    Question on Remedy Finder: “What best describes your symptoms”.

    One of the tick boxes to check is “DEATH”.

    As JC said to some old crone “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”.

    Obviously the fairy dust needs to be REALLY dilute for total resurrection.

    Lindy – maybe this is the jump starting they were referring to ! It worked for my car when the battery died so maybe a 2M dilution of “Lead Acid Accumulator” would do the job.

  • NAWD, oh yes it does matter. If it doesn’t, then why are you bothering to comment on this site?

    JH has made the relevant points, but I’ll just clarify further by saying that if I were to start selling chocolate bars that contained nothing at all from a cocoa bean, I would be prosecuted under Trades Descriptions.

    The anomalies I mention are in the way the laws and regulations do not concur with eachother and it is time this was exposed. The HY nothing medicines can be registered with the MHRA and yet they contravene the Trades Descr etc (earlier stuff on this site highlighted new EU legislation) because e.g. Arnica 200c or whatever does not contain what is on the label. Simple as that.

    Homs refuse to engage in rational argument, they are, like many CAM proponents, pious and patronising (all the nonsense about their stuff being beyond the laws of science, ‘you-don’t-understand etc) and they are peddling water/lactose. Worst of all they make dangerous claims – again illegal – about what HY can do. Just ignoring them will not make them go away.

  • Interestingly enough the Ainsworth remedy list has been taken down and has been down all morning (I was just checking for “car battery” in case I had traduced the woosters. Honest. It was just the once. I won’t do it again).

    As an IT person I realise that might just be concidence and could be for a whole host of reasons. I doubt if it was much to do with the AEA who replied with:

    “””””Dear Mr Hooper,

    With reference to your email below, UKAEA’s core business is now decommissioning and we are not involved with the regulation of the manufacture of medicinal compounds.

    May I suggest you contact the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

    Website details are

    Yours sincerely,
    Sue Connell”””””””””

    OK then. MRHA here we come.

  • Looking at the Ainsworth list, they have 3488 items on now.
    The aftershave is interesting. I am sure that Aftershave is not a generic product. For instance Old Spice does differ from Lynx.

    Also the Gloss Paint and Emulsion Paint. They don’t specify whether it is oil or acrylic based.

  • Oh and this

    Mammary Gland: 6C, 9C, 12C, 15C, 30C

    How did they ‘prove’ this?

  • Dear John and Lindy,

    Please don’t tar me with the same foul brush. I just hate giving nonsense-makers any leeway to claim that their cures are effective. Mind you, I have no legit ground to stand on, so I would respect your annoyance that I am even in this conversation. But I have a few things to say. Brace yourselves.

    I presume neither of you have worked in healthcare, but forgive me if I am wrong. I have no desire to upset you, I respect you both.

    Healthcare is about much, much more than evidence. I know this because I have worked in healthcare for years, now. I want to share three examples of how evidence is not helpful in medicine.

    1) February 2006: I was having terrible abdominal pains and was admitted to hospital. I was put in a six-bedded room (one floor below the ward I worked in) and given every test imaginable. I was given x-rays, US scans, physical exams, blood tests, and a gastroscopy. In spite of being given diamorphine (pharmaceutical grade heroin!) I was still in agony. After 3 days, the surgeon said there was nothing wrong with me and sent me home with an Rx of mebeverine. An antispasmodic. He said I had IBS. Which I don’t. The other 5 ladies in the room were never given a diagnosis. The staff smirked and said they’d all be back within months.

    I tossed the mebeverine in the bin and went for a course of Chinese therapeutic massage. The pain went after the third massage, and I have never had it since. That could be random, I know. So I keep an open mind.

    2) About 6 years ago I went to a seminar on alternative treatments to cancer just to see what would be said. I was skeptical at first, but the two people who had tried alternative methods to treating their cancer were so committed. Beata Bishop has had a tumour for almost 30 years and Michael Gearin-Tosh had blood cancer for 11 years until he died of an unrelated infection. Both of them swore by the controversial Gerson Method. I can’t see how it would benefit, but both of them swore it kept them alive much longer than they would have been, otherwise. I have to respect their experience.

    3) Finally, a good friend of mine died last week at the age of 35 from breast cancer. She had three small children. She did 10 courses of Herceptin which made her so ill she feared for her mental well being. It made her so ill she couldn’t cope with life. She also went to see a spiritual healer every week. The spiritual healer made her happy, relaxed, and willing to face her cancer.

    We all know that the ‘spiritual healing’ didn’t ‘work’ but it improved her quality of life. I know the Herceptin didn’t ‘work’ and it made her miserable and unhappy.

    Would you be willng to admit that human healthcare is more complicated than the evidence-base would admit?

    You are attacking a certain kind of treatment when you have never treated real human beings in a therapeutic situation.

    It’s a little more complicated than you think it is.

    All the best,

    h.

  • To LeCanardNoir

    You might be surprised about QC in homeopathy. Boiron are always banging on about their GMP procedures.

    http://www.boiron.com/en/htm/homeopathic-drugs/homeopathy-manufacturing.htm

  • Whether or not one has treated patients it is glaringly obvious that there are many bits of medicine that are not well understood and for which treatments are unsatisfactory. Back pain is an obvious example. In such cases the clinician has no option but to take decisions in the absence of evidence.

    That does not mean that you pretend that things are evidence when they are not (as in your examples). It means you say “I don’t know”.

    Perhaps you should look at the views of Michael Baum. He was a breast cancer surgeon and he has also made great contributions to supportive care and the ‘spiritual’ aspects of cancer care. He was also a signatory on our 2006 letter that urged the NHS not to spend money on “unproven and disproved” treatments. Sounds reasonable to me.

  • Dear Dr. Colquhoun,

    I say ‘I don’t know’ every day. Most GPs should do this. I had a patient come to me last week that should have, clearly, gone to a psychologist. When I suggested this, she got very very angry at me and suggested I didnt know what I was talking about.

    She insisted that she wanted herbal treatment for her condition. I obliged because she was in terrible distress. What I do is not easy and I don’t do it because I think I’m right. I do it because the people I treat are not well. I do the best I can in very difficult conditions.

    You might understand, or you might not understand. It’s not as simple a situation as you make it out to be.

    At any rate, I still respect you profoundly and I am very happy with the conversations we have had.

    Thanks for your input. I respect you profoundly.

    :-)

    h.

  • NAWD, let’s take your three examples one at a time.

    1) A qualified physician diagnosed that there was nothing wrong with you. You took a course of treatment which has no known therapeutic benefits – and lo, there was indeed nothing wrong with you. There is nothing anomalous or inexplicable there.

    2) Both of these people “swore it kept them alive much longer than they would have been, otherwise.” How did they know how long they were destined to live? Doctors can give estimates of ‘how much time you have left’ but estimates is all they can be. These people were sure that the ‘Gerson Method’ (whatever that is) kept them alive – right up until it didn’t. I must be using something similar because look at me: I’ve never lived this long before in my life. Again, there is nothing anomalous or inexplicable in your anecdote.

    3) How do you know the Herceptin “didn’t work” when your friend died at 35? When would she have died without it? You claim in anecdote 2 that a course of unproven treatment extended somebody’s life but in anecdote 3 that a course of proven treatment didn’t. Can you not see the double standard here?

    What is this mysterious ability you have to know exactly when somebody is scheduled to pass on? Do you wander around with an hour glass and a scythe? (NB. I have no doubt that that ‘spiritual healing’ gave your friend great comfort in her last days. But that doesn’t mean that the drug didn’t work.)

    Do you really think that any of your three anecdotes is a valid argument? Can you not see that they fail to convince not just because they are purely anecdotal but because none of them indicate any therapeutic effect of any ‘alternative treatment’?

    By the way, yes I have worked in healthcare although not as a doctor.

  • Dear M Simson,

    You come in a bit late in our conversation and you accuse me of all sorts of things that you know nothing about.

    You have obviously not had patients in your care, according to your anecdotes.

    I worked in the busiest surgical ward in my local hospital for over 3 years, I have many more than 3 anecdotes. I chose those three anecodotes because they were relevant.

    I could discuss hundreds more if you were interested.

  • NAWD, how are your anecdotes relevant? None of them show any evidence of an effect from alternative medicine.

    Perhaps you could answer this (without being condescending): how are you able to so accurately estimate somebody’s life expectancy that you can say, with any degree of certainty, that the people in your second anecdote had their lives extended by their treatment while the person in your third anecdote did not?

  • Nash wrote, “Mammary Gland: 6C, 9C, 12C, 15C, 30C

    How did they ‘prove’ this?”

    The same way as they “prove” anything: they give the potentised remedy* to some volunteers, and then decide which of their subsequent random observations fit the remedy.

    *One myth about homoeopathy that homoeopaths appear to be rather reluctant to dispel is that provings are carried out with material doses of the substance from which the remedy is to be made. They often appear to imply that this is the case (see, for example, the comment here that “in colds and hay fever something we often use is allium cepa which is onion and of course we all know the effects of chopping an onion, you know the sore streaming eyes, streaming nose, sneezing and so we would use allium cepa, onion, for a cold with similar sorts of features”). In fact, provings are invariably carried out using potentised (i.e. diluted) remedies, generally at 30C as recommended by Samuel Hahnemann in the Organon (aphorism 128).

    Unfortunately, ultramolecular homeopathy has no observable clinical effects.

  • M. Simpson,

    I will address your points.

    1) A qualified surgeon admitted he had found nothing wrong with me. He had no explanation for the pain that required me to be administered opiate therapy. I was ‘undiagnosed’. That is not to say that there was nothing wrong with me. He just didn’t know WHAT was wrong with me. I read a paper recently that admitted that only 25% of GP administered medicines are effective. Of the other 75% of patients, about 50% get better without explanation. The others die or are so ill they stay in care. Kind of interesting, eh?

    2) I don’t know what point you’re making here. What a poor logic you use for the life expectancy for humans. It was really pathetic. If you get a cancer, give me a ring, we can talk about what you think about life, then.

    3) The herceptin may have worked in the short term. She didn’t die of breast cancer, she died of metastsized liver cancer. And I don’t believe the spiritual healing extended her life…. I believe it made her happy. And someone who is dying at age 35 deserves to be happy. If you contradict this then you are truly pathetic.

    Explain to me your experience with all of your ‘healthcare patients’. Explain how pharmaceuticals help all of them, and GPs always listen, and surgeons aways do the right thing.

    I will know you are lying because I have treated hundreds of patients who have been rejected by their GPs, by the NHS, by their families. They say exactly what you mock: that they are in pain, unhappy, not feeling right, they wish someone would give them a chance to talk……

    I’ll ask you a question, and think very very carefully before you answer:

    Are you and I biochemically and genetically the same??????

    If we are not, why would all pharmaceuticals work the same way on us? ADME. ADME.

    Open your mind a bit.

  • Oh dear, I think this what’s called erecting straw men.

    “Explain how pharmaceuticals help all of them, and GPs always listen, and surgeons aways do the right thing.”

    “Are you and I biochemically and genetically the same? If we are not, why would all pharmaceuticals work the same way on us?”

    Nobody has ever said any of these things. And even if they had it would be irrelevant to the question of whether the treatments that you advocate work or not. On the latter, aren’t you aware of the whole literature on pharrnacogenomics and genome-wide associations?

    The straw man tactic is a very common tactic among alternative medicine advocates. When asked to produce evidence for their claims the response is to “yah boo, your medicine is imperfect.”

    Of course it is imperfect. Nobody has ever denied that, but it wasn’t the question that you were asked.

  • NWAD, you’re doing the usually pro-CAM trick of making outrageous claims and then, when they are respectfully queried, changing the subject and/or becoming angry.

    Here’s the point I’m making about your anecdote no.2 wherein you say “both of them swore it kept them alive much longer than they would have been, otherwise. I have to respect their experience.” This is simply nonsense, in the literal meaning of not making sense. There is no way that either person could be sure how long they would have lived without the treatment. Each of us has only one life (I would have thought, with your vast medical experience, you would have spotted that) so it is patently impossible for anyone, no matter how ill, to say with certainty how long they will or won’t live with or without any sort of treatment. The ‘experience’ that you are respecting is the experience of “I’ve never lived this long before in my life.”

    And no, all pharmaceuticals don’t work the same way on everyone. Of course they don’t – who claims that they do? And what has this got to do with anything? As DC points out, this is a straw man.

    My mind is open* in that, if you or anyone else can present repeatable, anomalous results from a trial of any alternative treatment then I would consider it likely that said treatment is effective. An open mind is one that changes as new evidence is presented.

    But purely anecdotal evidence is the weakest form of evidence because there is anecdotal evidence for, well, everything. What is hilarious is that your anecdotes aren’t even evidence supporting your pro-CAM stance because they do not involve CAM having any positive effect. Come on, I’m sure you can come up with something that at least supports your argument, however weakly, from your enormous stock of stories about all the thousands of poorly patients whom you have nursed back to full health with a drop of magic water, a wave of your hand and a quick prayer.

    A closed mind, like yours, believes something firmly and dogmatically and isn’t even prepared to consider the possibility that it might be mistaken.

    *But, as the saying goes, not so much that my brain falls out.

  • Dear Dr Colquhoun,

    Of course I am aware of Pharmacogenomics and genome-wide associations. I studied Molecular Genetics and Molecular Pathology in my degree. But, with all due respect, Sir, I actually treat patients every day. I think about these things all the time. I know that all of us are different, and that our enzyme cascades are different because our genes are different. (Witness: immune disease, for instance) Each and every one of us produces protein cascades based on our genetic make up. In each of us, the genetic make up is different, therefore, our enzyme cascades are different (they may have the same building blocks, but….).

    Your straw-man tactic seems inappropriate to me, when I think about the work I have done with my patients. Human beings are not as simple as a laboratory experiment. When I question our genetic similarity (or our dis-similarity) or our susceptibility to a pharmacological agent, I mean that I question that, exactly. Human beings rarely respond to pharmaceuticals the way we want them to respond. Only 30% (roughly) respond the way the pharmaceutical company expects them to react. That is generally considered efficacy. I’m not so sure.

    Why is it so difficult to admit that we have so few answers to the human condition in relationship to disease? It doesn’t mean what what you have done for so long is illegitimate, it means we still don’t understand the process of healing and ‘curing’ disease. I don’t know if we will. But I am not ashamed of what I do. I’m certainly not intimidated by excellent scientists like yourself. I still help people, no matter what you think I do (woo!).

    PS What question was it I asked, exactly? I came here to ask you all questions about the efficacy and safety of orthodox medicine. I have found plenty of questions, but no answers. When will you provide me with answers?

  • PS: I am not angry at all. Really.

    I really love this serious debate. But I am Not angry AT ALL.

    Hope I don’t disappoint you all.

    Happy, but nice, NotaWitchDoctor, takes a sip of lovely hair-ball tea. If I was angry, it would be at the NIMH. Now there’s a group I could get angry with……

  • Also,

    M Simpson,

    I don’t have a closed mind, at all. You can ask Dr Colquhoun for confirmation.

    I am one of the most reasonable plant pharmacologists you will ever encounter, so tread lightly.

    I am one of the ‘good guys’.

    :-)

  • “Why is it so difficult to admit that we have so few answers to the human condition in relationship to disease?”

    Scientists admit this every day. Trying to find those answers is what science is all about. And every answer found raises more questions.

    What distinguishes pseudoscientists – which includes most practitioners and supporters of CAM – from real scientists is that they claim that they do in fact have simple answers which everyone else has somehow missed.

    By the way, you still haven’t answered my straightforward question about how you can be reasonably sure that the patients in your second anecdote had their lives extended by treatment but the person in your third anecdote didn’t.

  • NAWD

    I trust you research your weeds better than you have researched this web site.

    The Dr Colquhoun you refer to is actually a Professor.

    I don’t know for sure, but could probably hazard a pretty good guess, that he earned this honorific through the application of the scientific method.

    That is the thing that replaced anecdote and mumbo jumbo around the time of the Enlightenment. It seems to have done a pretty good job so far.

    You should try it.

  • NAWD is indeed very much at the reasonable end of the alt med spectrum. and I admire her courage in speaking up here.

    Nonetheless, she really does not seem to appreciate just how unreliable anecdote and personal experience are as ways of finding the truth. It was anecdotes and personal experience that kept blood-letting in business for so long. And there is no shortage of anecdotes for homeopathy, which she deplores as much as I do.

  • NAWD

    Let’s look at why the anecdotal evidence you use is not trustworthy. Nobody doubts that sympathy, kindness, courtesy etc can be beneficial to a sick person. Here are a few examples.

    1) My grandmothers doctor prescribed alcohol and fags for her following the death of my grandfather (this was in 1963) as a mechanism to cope with the overwhelming grief and sadness she was trying to come to terms with

    2) My other grandmothers doctor prescribed a dog for exactly the same reason

    3) I can prove (demonstrably and scientifically for what it is worth) that stroking one of my Maine Coons reduces your heart rate (proven with a Hewlett Packard clothes peg on the thumb type monitor thingy)

    The fact that modern science/medicine cannot cure everything all of the time is hardly a recipe for dishing out booze, fags, cats and dogs on the NHS. Nor is it a refutation of evidence-based medicine for mumbo-jumbo.

    M Simpson refutes your points far more eloquently. You moan at him/her for coming into the conversation late but the anecdotal evidence indicates very clearly that he/she can read and write perfectly well and as such may even have read all the previous postings.

    You seem a fairly sensible person so ask yourself how much confidence anyone can have in the following pieces of anecdotal reportage:

    1) Seeing ghosts
    2) Being abducted by aliens
    3) Precognition of future events
    4) Communicating with the dead

    There are many millions of people who would attest to these experiences. Would you give them any credence as specific experiences . I imagine not – no more than someone can be convinced faith healing (or whatever) extended their lives.

    Standing on the shoulders of quite tall people I would point out that collections of anecdotes and speculation does not constitute data.

  • And as you asked I redirected the radioactive complaint to the Nuclear Directorate of the HSE and sent a similar one to the Dangerous Chemicals bit of the HSE.

    Hopefully they will be more interested than the AEA. Holds breath . . . . . .

  • NAWD

    And if you wonder why people doubt the weed “remedies”, Pan Pharmaceutical were selling “medicines” with between 0% and 700% of the dosage.

    “””””When Pan Pharmaceuticals was closed down early last year because of bad manufacturing practices, the response of the industry was not to support action to ensure that only quality products were delivered to the public but to lie about the products that Pan made and to lie about what had been recalled.

    One classic lie was that the product which triggered the action by the Therapeutic Goods Administration was a prescription drug which had nothing to do with natural or alternative medicines.

    One professional naturopath announced that hyoscine hydrobromide, the active ingredient, was obviously a chemical and appeared nowhere in her professional naturopathy books. It fell to me, a mere quackbuster, to tell her to look under “henbane”.”””””

    So crap products, no quality control, dosage is totally hit and miss, get caught out, lie, obfuscate and whinge rather than sorting out the problem.

    Victimhood apparently comes very easy to the charlatans.

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